MEANING OF ADVERSE POSSESSION IN INDIA
Taking possession of a property inadvertently is known as adverse possession. It’s accepted and widely used in India, though. A person is given ownership rights to a piece of property under the law of adverse possession if they remain in possession of it for 12 years. In plain English, a renter acquires ownership of a property if they continue to live in it for 12 years without the owner interfering. The legislation was designed to optimize land use, but over time, advance possession, a type of hostile possession in which the legal owner is denied any claim to their property, has replaced adverse possession. To avoid any problem or disagreement, property owners need to be informed of these adverse possession regulations.
EXAMPLE OF ADVERSE POSSESSION IN INDIA
For instance, if X, the landowner, transfers his property to Y for upkeep and then returns after 12 years to claim it back, the court will not rule in X’s favor in the dispute.
Adverse possession can be of two different types:
- Adverse from the start, or
- The possession then turns Adverse.
The Code of Hammurabi is where the laws of adverse possession first appear. Although this Code differs slightly from the law of adverse possession, it is nevertheless upheld today.
THE HISTORICAL CONCEPT OF ADVERSE POSSESSION
Assume that a person vacates a house or a field in accordance with his preferences, and that someone else thereafter holds the property for three years. In that situation, the property cannot be claimed by the original owner; instead, it must be delivered to the person who is now in possession of it.
The Privy Council declared this legislation clear in the 1907 case Perry v. Clissold. In this instance, it was decided that if someone is in real physical possession of a piece of property and is actively caring for it without the help of the legitimate owner, then that person will be awarded total title to the item and will be regarded as its true owner.
Additionally, the aforementioned judgment was handed out in the Nair Service Society v. K.C. Alexander case. As a result, this rule continues to be applicable today and is the fundamental idea behind adverse possession in contemporary law.
According to Article 65 of the Limitation Act of 1963, a person’s rights are forfeited if they fail to take the necessary action to reclaim their property from the person in possession within 12 years.
ADVERSE POSSESSION LAW
The Limitation Legislation of 1963 serves as the guiding concept for India’s adverse possession law. According to the limitation act’s provisions on adverse possession, if no appeal is filed to modify any limitation after a reasonable amount of time or a length of time, the present state of the titles is maintained. The time frame is 12 years when referring to adverse possession. In India, if a property owner does not file a claim against their property for 12 years and the same tenant continues to occupy the property throughout that time, the renter will become the legal owner of the property. These are the fundamental guidelines of India’s adverse possession limitation statute.
EXCEPTIONS TO THE DOCTRINE OF ADVERSE POSSESSION
- If a child is the owner.
- If the owner has a mental illness.
- If the owner is a member of the military.
Property conflicts are on the rise nationwide, thus owners should take great effort to prevent them. Knowing these laws will assist the owner understand how to establish possession of the land and prove adverse possession in court.
CAN TENANT CLAIM ADVERSE POSSESSION?
The adverse possession legislation in India normally does not take into account tenancy through a lease or rental agreement. However, in other instances, such as when the lease has ended or the owner has failed to uphold certain terms of the agreement, the tenants have used the situation as leverage to seek ownership through adverse possession. The owner has been given a 12-year window in which to act. The owner should start thinking about evicting the renters as soon as there is a contract violation to prevent adverse possession. Tenants are not eligible to use adverse possession to obtain ownership if they have compensated the owner in any way after the lease has ended.
TIME LIMITS FOR ADVERSE POSSESSION
The permitted time period for a private dwelling is 12 years. However, there is a 30-year time restriction on state, federal, or public land or property. The permitted time period starts to run whenever the trespasser or tortfeasor invades or harms the true owner’s property.
It’s crucial to keep in mind that the lawsuit may be suspended or postponed under specific conditions while figuring out the statutory period. Some instances include:
- Legal action between the guardian and the true owner.
- Situations when the real owner is either under the age of 18 or mentally unstable.
- The owner is a member of the military.
Kshitish Chandra Bose v. Commissioner of Ranchi (1981)
The three-judge Supreme Court panel overturned the High Court’s judgment in this case. In this case, the court made it clear that the person possessing the property had to do so openly and without any desire to keep it hidden from the owner. Even if the true owner is unaware of the ownership in this case, the issue won’t get any better. Even though the owner of the item is unknown to the person in possession, this does not lessen the negative effects of the possession.
Hemaji Waghaji v. Bhikhabhai Khengarbhai (2008)
The Supreme Court harshly condemned adverse possession in this particular instance, calling it unreasonable and unjust to the property owner. Adverse possession would benefit the owner of the property who had committed a criminal act and was wholly dishonest, leaving the owner defenseless. In order to strike a balance between the virtues and drawbacks of adverse possession, the Court requested that the statutes governing it be reviewed and modified.
State of Haryana v. Mukesh Kumar and Ors (2011)
In this case, the court ruled that for adverse possession to occur, the individual must hold the property in an adverse way to the owner for a certain amount of time in an uninterrupted and uncontested manner. Even in this case, the court demanded that some amendments be made to the statute of adverse possession so that it is favorable to all parties.
Mallikarjunaiah v. Nanjaiah (2019)
In this particular case, the court ruled that mere continued ownership of the property as the rightful owner did not amount to adverse possession. The possession must be hostile, open, and devoid of any other people. For there to be adverse possession, the original owner of the property must also be aware of this possession and the claim for ownership.
It is clear from both its advantages and disadvantages that new regulations that benefit both the owner and the possessor are needed to replace the current ones. Regarding the owner’s entire awareness, there are several ambiguities that must be taken into account. Therefore, it could only be determined that the legal requirements controlling adverse possession are effective when all of these gaps are filled in order to assist the lawful possession of the land while also protecting the possessor’s rights after the expiration of the limitation period.
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