The Supreme Court has recommended to the Union government to suitably amend the law of adverse possession as it puts premium on dishonesty by legitimising possession of a rank trespasser on the land at the cost of the rightful owner.
A bench comprising Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Harjit Singh Bedi, while upholding the judgement of the Gujarat High Court dismissed the appeal of a trespasser Hemaji Waghaji Jat and also imposed a cost of Rs 25,000 on him for forcibly possessing the land of Bhikha Bhai Khengar Bhai Harijan and others for over a half century.
The trial court had held that Jat had purchased six acres of land for Rs 75 in 1925 from one Gama Bhai Gala Bhai and was in possession of the land for seventy years and at the same time also recorded a finding that Jat took forcible possession of the land in 1960.
The trial court judgement was set aside by the District Judge Palanpur, Gujarat and the High Court also dismissed the petition of the appellant.
The apex court in its judgement noted, “Before parting with this case, we deem it appropriate to observe that the law of adverse possession which ousts and owner on the basis of inaction within limitation is irrational, illogical and wholly disproportionate.” The law, as it exists, is extremely harsh for the true owner and a windfall for a dishonest person who had illegally taken possession of the property of true owner, the bench noted.
“The law ought not to benefit a person who in a clandestine manner takes possession of the property of the owner in contravention of law. This in substance would mean that the law give seal of approval to the illegal action or activities of a rank trespasser or who had wrongfully taken possession of the property of the true owner,” the bench added.
Justice Bhandari, writing for the bench in the 23-page judgement also observed,” We fail to comprehend why the law should place premium on dishonesty by legitimising possession of a rank trespasser and compelling the owner to loose its possession only because of his inaction in taking back the possession within limitation.”
The apex court concluded by saying, ”In our considered view there is an urgent meet of fresh look regarding the law on adverse possession. We recommend the Union of India to seriously consider and make suitable changes in the law of adverse possession.
A copy of this judgement be sent to the Secretary Minisrty of Law and Justice, Department Legal Affairs and Government of India for taking appropriate steps in accordance with the law.” The Supreme Court has also said the Right to Property is now part of Human Rights.