Owner must act within 12 years or squatters may get right: SC

No owner, under any circumstances would be willing to let go of their claim on the property, especially when it’s the question of his income and survival. It is precisely for this reason a property owner has to keep his eyes and ears open all the time, especially if the property has been given to another person to stay.

When you go by the provisions of The Limitation Act, 1963- It says that one may lose ownership over your property if someone else is living there for an uninterrupted period of 12 years and claims ownership through adverse possession.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said if a rightful owner of the immovable property fails to take action to get back possession within the limitation period then his or her rights are lost. A person in possession or squatter will acquire an absolute title, but apex court has said that no benefit of adverse possession will be given to people who encroach upon public land.

The bench, comprising of Justices Arun Mishra, S Abdul Nazeer and M R Shah said the law provided shield to a person who is in possession of the property beyond 12 years and that person can take action by filing a suit for restoration of possession in case of dispossession.

The bench stated,”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.”

It also said, “In case a person in adverse possession has perfected his title, after the extinguishment of the title of the true owner, he can’t be dispossessed by a true owner as the owner has lost his right, title and interest.”

“There are instances when such properties are encroached upon and a plea of adverse possession is raised. In such cases, on the land reserved for public utility, it is desirable that rights should not accrue. The law of adverse possession may cause harsh consequences, hence, we are constrained to observe that it would be advisable that concerning such properties dedicated to the public cause, it is made clear in the statute of limitation that no rights can accrue by adverse possession,” the court said.

Taruni Lakkaraju

Just another one of those law aspirants who can't keep a pen away from the paper for too long, always hoping that their love for writing and their compassion for law will result in something beautiful. Currently pursuing second year of LLB from the prestigious Government Law College, Mumbai.
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