Review law on property rights: Supreme CourtSeptember 30th, 2011 - 11:33 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Sep 30 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday said that parliament may consider abolishing or amending a law that enables a trespasser take the title of a building or land from the true owner in certain conditions.
An apex court bench of Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice Deepak Verma noted that people were often astonished to learn that a trespasser may take the title of a building or land from the true owner in certain conditions and such theft was even authorised by law.
“The theory of adverse possession is also perceived by the general public as a dishonest way to obtain title to property,” the court said.
“Property right advocates argue that mistakes by landowners or negligence on their part should never transfer their property rights to a wrongdoer, who never paid valuable consideration for such an interest,” the court said.
Justice Bhandari said: “Such a change would ensure that only those who had established attachments to the land through honest means would be entitled to legal relief.”
In case parliament decides to retain the law of adverse possession, it might simply require adverse possession claimants to possess the property in question for a period of 30-50 years, rather than a mere 12 years, the court said
A longer statutory period would decrease the frequency of adverse possession suits, the court said.
“If this law is to be retained, according to the wisdom of parliament, then at least the law must require those who adversely possess land to compensate title owners according to the prevalent market rate of the land or property in question,” the judgment said.
The court said that this alternative would provide some semblance of justice to those who have done nothing other than sitting on their rights for the statutory period, while allowing the adverse possessor to remain on property.
The court was hearing a case in which Haryana police had filed a civil suit seeking a declaration to the effect that it had acquired the rights of ownership of some plots in Gurgaon district.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court, while upholding the verdict of a Gurgaon against police, observed that the “welfare state which was responsible for the protection of life and property of its citizens, was in the present case, itself trying to grab the land/property of the defendants under the garb of the plea of adverse possession”.
Dismissing the petition by the state and imposing a cost of Rs.50,000, the apex court pulled up the Haryana government for filing a “totally frivolous petition and unnecessarily wasting the time of the court and demonstrating its evil design of grabbing the properties of lawful owners in a clandestine manner”.
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Tags: adverse possession, advocates, apex, apex court, bhandari, civil suit, claimants, court bench, deepak verma, effe, judgment, landowners, negligence, New Delhi, parliament, semblance, statutory period, trespasser, true owner, valuable consideration