The Supreme Court has reiterated that long and continuous possession by itself cannot be termed as adverse possession so as to perfect title within the meaning of Article 65 of the Limitation Act.
The plaintiff filed a suit for possession on the basis of purchase of suit property. The defendants in the written statement denied that the plaintiff is the owner of the property. They asserted that their house existed on the property in question for more than the last two centuries.
The High Court, in the second appeal, held that hold that the defendants were in open, uninterrupted, peaceful and hostile possession since March, 1964 and the period of 12 years was completed in March, 1976. Therefore, the suit filed by the plaintiff on 17th February, 1979 was barred by limitation.
The Apex Court bench of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Hemant Gupta observed that that if according to the defendant, the plaintiff was not the true owner, his possession hostile to the plaintiff's title will not be sufficient.
The bench referred to various judgments on Adverse possession including that of the Constitution Bench in M Siddiq (D) through LRs v. Mahant Suresh Das [Ayodhya Case]. The Court noted that a plea of adverse possession is founded on the acceptance that ownership of the property vests in another, against whom the claimant asserts possession adverse to the title of the other. While allowing the appeal, the bench said:
"In the present case, the defendants have not admitted the vesting of the suit property with the Managing Officer and the factum of its transfer in favour of the plaintiff. The defendants have denied the title not only of the Managing Officer but also of the plaintiff. The plea of the defendants is one of continuous possession but there is no plea that such possession was hostile to the true owner of the suit property. The evidence of the defendants is that of continuous possession. Some of the receipts pertain to 1963 but possession since November, 1963 till the filing of the suit will not ripe into title as the defendants never admitted the plaintiff-appellant to be owner or that the land ever vested with the Managing Officer. In view of the judgments referred to above, we find that the findings recorded by the High Court that the defendants have perfected their title by adverse possession are not legally sustainable. Consequently, the judgment and decree passed by the High Court is set aside and the suit is decreed. "
Case name: SHRI UTTAM CHAND (D) vs. NATHU RAM (D)
Case No.: CIVIL APPEAL NO. 190 OF 2020
Coram: Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Hemant Gupta