Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, SA Nazeer and MR Shah, JJ has held that the Article 65 of Limitation Act, 1963 not only enables a person to set up a plea of adverse possession as a shield as a defendant but also allows a plaintiff to use it as a sword to protect the possession of immovable property or to recover it in case of dispossession.

The Court held 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 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. By perfection of title on extinguishment of the owner’s title, a person cannot be remediless.

“In case he has been dispossessed by the owner after having lost the right by adverse possession, he can be evicted by the plaintiff by taking the plea of adverse possession. Similarly, any other person who might have dispossessed the plaintiff having perfected title by way of adverse possession can also be evicted until and unless such other person has perfected title against such a plaintiff by adverse possession.”

Rejecting the contention that there is no conferral of right by adverse possession, the Court held that there is the acquisition of title in favour of plaintiff though it is negative conferral of right on extinguishment of the right of an owner of the property. The right ripened by prescription by his   adverse possession is absolute and on dispossession, he can sue based on ‘title’ as envisaged in the opening part under Article 65 of Act. The Court, hence, held that

“the plea of acquisition of title by adverse possession can be taken by plaintiff under Article 65 of the Limitation Act and there is no bar under the Limitation Act, 1963 to sue on aforesaid basis in case of infringement of any rights of a plaintiff.”

[Ravinder Kaur Grewal v. Manjit Kaur, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 975, decided on 07.08.2019]