Tag Archives: adverse possession

Lawful Possession

Possession may be lawful, it may be unlawful. It may be legal or illegal. The acquisition of legal possession would obviously be lawful and would of necessity involve the occurrence of some event recognized by law whereby the subject matter falls under the control of the possessor. But a problem arises where the duration for which possession is recognized is limited by the grantor or the law. Continuance of possession beyond the period specified by the grantor or recognized by law is not treated as a lawful possession. For example, a tenant acquires legal as well as lawful possession of the tenanted premises from the landlord with the express consent of the landlord but limited to the duration of the lease. On expiry of the leaser, if the landlord does not consent to the lease being continued, the possession of such tenant would not be a lawful possession. The nature of possession being not lawful would entitle the landlord to regain possession.

        From a common sense point of view, lawful possession must be the state of being a possessor in the eyes of law. The possession must be warranted or authorized by law; having the qualifications prescribed by law and not contrary to nor forbidden by law. Sawwad Ali v. Rajesh Kumar, 2019 (135) ALR 927.

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Corpus Possession & Permissible Possession

Corpus Possession means that there exists such physical contact of the thing by the possessor as to give rise to the reasonable assumption that other person will not interfere with it. Existence of corpus broadly depends on (1) upon the nature of the thing itself, and the probability that others will refrain from interfering with the enjoyment of it; (2) possession of real property, i.e., when a man sets foot over the threshold of a house, or crosses the boundary line of his estate, provided that there exist no factors negativing his control, for example the continuance in occupation of one who denies his right; and (3) acquisition of physical control over the objects it encloses. Corpus, therefore, depends more upon the general expectations that others will not interfere with an individual control over a thing, then upon the physical capacity of an individual to exclude others.

The animus possidendi is the conscious intention of an individual to exclude others from the control of an object.

There is also a concept of “constructive possession” which is depicted by a symbolic act. It has been narrated with an illustration that delivery of keys of a building may give right to constructive possession of all the contents to the transferee of the key.

A person other than the owner, if continued to have possession of immoveable property for a period as prescribed in a Statute providing limitation, openly, without any interruption and interference from the owner, though he has knowledge of such possession, would crystallize in ownership after the expiry of the prescribed period of limitation, if the real owner has not taken any action for reentry and he shall be denuded of his title to the property in law. “Permissible Possession” shall not mature a title since it cannot be treated to be an “adverse possession”. Such possession for however length of time be continued, shall not either be converted into adverse possession or a title. It is only the hostile possession which is one of the condition for adverse possession. Bhikhari v. D.D.C., 2018 (141) RD 130.

 

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Ouster – Essential Elements

‘Ouster’ does not mean actual driving out of the co-sharer from the property. It will, however, not be complete unless it is coupled with all other ingredients required to constitute adverse possession. Broadly speaking, three elements are necessary for establishing the plea of ouster in the case of co-owner. They are: (i) declaration of hostile animus, (ii) long and uninterrupted possession of the person pleading ouster, and (iii) exercise of right of exclusive ownership openly and to the knowledge of other co-owner. Nagabhushanammal v. C. Chandikeswaralingam, 2016 (3) AWC 2721.

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Dispossession vis-à-vis Discontinuance of possession

The term “dispossession” and “discontinuance of possession” in Article 142, Act IX of 1908 came to be considered before the Calcutta High Court in Brojendra Kishore Roy Chowdhury v. Bharat Chandra Roy and others, AIR 1916 Cal. 751 and the court held:
“Dispossession implies the coming in of a person and the driving out of another from possession. Discontinuance implies the going out of the person in possession and his being followed into possession by another.”
The distinction between “dispossession” and “discontinuance” has been noticed in Gangu Bai v. Soni, 1942 Nagpur Law Journal 99, observing that “dispossession” is not voluntary, “discontinuance” is. In dispossession, there is an element of force and adverseness while in the case of discontinuance, the person occupying may be an innocent person. For discontinuance of possession, the person in possession goes out and followed into possession by other person.
In Agency Company v. Short, 1888 (13) AC 793, the Privy Council observed that there is discontinuance of adverse possession when possession has been abandoned. The reason for the said observation finds mention on page 798 that there is no one against whom rightful owner can bring his action. The adverse possession cannot commence without actual possession and this would furnish cause of action.
Dispossession is question of fact. The term refers to averments in the plaint exclusively and cannot be construed as referring to averments in the plaint in the first instance and at a later stage to the finding on the evidence. The indicas of discontinuance are also similar to some extent. It implies going out of the other person in possession and is being followed into possession by another. U.P. Gandhi Smarak Nidhi v. Aziz Mian, (2013) 119 R.D. 106.

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