When does a Person Have Possessory Title over Property in India

The Supreme Court has specified that when any individual acquired right over a property due his possession for 12 years can claim that right of the property if he or she is ill-treated.

According to the government (Central and State) rules and regulations as prescribed in the Limitation Act if any individual lives in any property of the government for 30 years then they can claim the right to inherit the property.

Case Analysis:

“Poona Ram vs Moti Ram (D) Th. Lrs. on 29 January, 2019, Supreme Court of India”

“In the case of Poona Ram v Moti Ram & Ors, the bench of Hon’ble Justices Mohan M Shantanagoudar and N.V Ramana of Hon’ble Supreme Court has opined that “a person who asserts possessory title over a particular property will have to show that he is under settled or established possession of the said property. But merely stray or intermittent acts of trespass do not give such right against the true owner”. That, the proposition with regards, immoveable property remains that “Possession is nine-tenth of the law”. However, it is necessary to observe that there must be an establishment of “settled possession” to establish possessory title claim over an immovable property under Indian Law. Thus, to state that any person having casual possession over the immoveable property will not have possessory title over the said property.”

“Observation of Apex Court: The ratio laid down by the Supreme Court in the judgment is that a person who asserts possessory title over a particular property, will have to show he is under settled or established possession of the said property. Therefore, the Supreme Court, in the present case in light of the above submission had to observe that whether Moti Ram had better title over the suit property and whether he was in settled possession of the property, which required dispossession as per law.”

“Thus, the Court has observed that person who claims to have been in possessory title over a particular property, may have to show that they have been under settled or established possession of the said property, however trespass or mere possession won’t give any valid right against the true owner. The Court has laid down while reiterating the definition of “settled possession” opined that “Settled possession means such possession over the property which has existed for a sufficiently long period of time, and has been acquiesced to by the true owner. A casual act of possession does not have the effect of interrupting the possession of the rightful owner. A stray act of trespass, or a possession which has not matured into settled possession, can be obstructed or removed by the true owner even by using necessary force.”

The above case says that if any person wants to have possessory title over a property then he should have settled possession for long period of time such as for 12 years in any property of an individual and 30 years for government properties. So, mere trespass or casual possession does not amount to settled possession and provides no right over the property. Any person who does not fulfil the conditions mention in the Limitation Act and any other Indian law to acquire land or any property cannot claim any right over the property or land and also cannot file any suit for this purpose.

Somnath Burman v. Dr. S.P. Raju & Anr. [(1969) 3 SCC 129]” wherein this Court held:

“It was next contended on behalf of the appellant that in a suit for possession brought on the basis of title, the plaintiff cannot succeed unless he proves his title to the suit property as well as its possession within twelve years. According to the appellant, except in a suit under Section 9 of the Specific Relief Act, the plaintiff for succeeding in the suit, has to prove both existing title to the suit property and its possession within twelve years. We are unable to accept this contention as correct. In our opinion the possession of the plaintiff prior to 1945 is a good title against all but the true owner. The defendants who are mere trespassers cannot defeat the plaintiff’s lawful possession by ousting him from the suit property. Possessory title is a good title as against everybody other than the lawful owner.”


The above body explains about the topic that “when a person can have possessory title over a property in India.” There are different provisions given under the Limitation Act and other Indian laws which provide possessory title to any person who fulfils the above mentioned conditions. There are many disputes relating to possessory title arising day by day which needs to be resulted. So, it is better to consult with a legal expert to get solutions regarding these matters.

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