Date : 13 Aug, 2019
Post By Sankul Nagpal
Property plays an important part in an individual’s life. It is not just synonymous to a shelter but also serves as a source of economic security and an investment option.
However, since the property is a crucial element in one’s life it is evident that many times it also becomes the source of legal and familial disputes. Thus the news of unlawful possession of property and forceful eviction is common in today’s era.
While the law protects those whose rights are unlawfully infringed, but sleeping on your legal rights can surely cost you high.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court on August 7th 2019 has held that if the rightful owner of an immovable property fails to take legal recourse to get back the possession he/she is entitled to within the limitation period then his or her rights are lost.
The court also held that while the benefit of Adverse Possession is given to people who are encroached upon private immovable property, no such benefit shall be available to people who encroached upon Public Property.
To better understand the top court’s decision, let us look at some key concepts.
What is Limitation?
The law of limitation can be described as the time limit prescribed for different suits within which an aggrieved can approach the court for legal recourse.
Limitation in India is governed by the Limitation Act 1963. When a suit is initiated after the bar of limitation, it will be covered by the law of limitation.
Limitation for Possession
As per the Limitation Act 1963, the statutory period of limitation that is allowed for possession of immovable property or any interest is 12 years in case of private property, and 30 years for public property, from the date the trespasser occupies that particular property.
The Doctrine of Adverse Possession
The doctrine of adverse possession is a legal doctrine under which a person who is not the original owner of an immovable property becomes the rightful owner owing to the fact that he has been in possession of the property for a minimum of 12-years, within which the real owner did not seek legal recourse to oust him.
The applicability of the Doctrine
Applying the principals of both the Limitation Act and the Doctrine, the bench stated that “We hold that a person in possession cannot be ousted by another person except by due procedure of law and once 12-years’ period of adverse possession is over, even the owner’s right to eject him is lost and the possessory owner acquires right, title and interest possessed by the outgoing person/owner as the case may be against whom he has prescribed. In our opinion, consequence is that once the right, title or interest is acquired, it can be used as a sword by the plaintiff as well as a shield by the defendant within ken of Article 65 of the Act and any person who has perfected title by way of adverse possession, can file a suit for restoration of possession in case of dispossession’’.
This means that if a rightful owner of an immovable property fails to take action to get back possession within the limitation period then his rights are lost and person in possession acquires an absolute title.
Therefore sleeping on your rights can cost you heftily and thus is it advisable to take legal action within the limitation period.
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