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We recommend the Union of India to immediately consider and seriously deliberate either abolition of the law of adverse possession and in the alternate to make suitable amendments in the law of adverse possession.=whether the State, which is in charge of protection of life, liberty and property of the people can be permitted to grab the land and property of its own citizens under the banner of the plea of adverse possession?

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 (Arising out of CC 9038/2010)

State of Haryana ...Petitioner 


Mukesh Kumar & Ors. ...Respondents

 J U D G M E N T

Dalveer Bhandari, J.

1. People are 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 is 

even authorized by law.

2. The theory of adverse possession is also perceived 

by the general public as a dishonest way to obtain title 

to property. 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. 

3. The government itself may acquire land by adverse 

possession. Fairness dictates and commands that if the 

government can acquire title to private land through 

adverse possession, it should be able to lose title under 

the same circumstances. 

4. We have heard the learned counsel for the State of 

Haryana. We do not deem it appropriate to financially 

burden the respondents by issuing notice in this Special 

Leave Petition. A very vital question which arises for 

consideration in this petition is whether the State, which is 

in charge of protection of life, liberty and property of the 

people can be permitted to grab the land and property of its 

own citizens under the banner of the plea of adverse 


5. Brief facts, relevant to dispose of this Special Leave 

Petition are recapitulated as under:

6. The State of Haryana had filed a Civil Suit through the 

Superintendent of Police, Gurgaon, seeking a relief of 

declaration to the effect that it has acquired the rights of 


ownership by way of adverse possession over land 

measuring 8 biswas comprising khewat no. 34, khata no. 

56, khasra no. 3673/452 situated in the revenue estate of 

Hidayatpur Chhavni, Haryana.

7. The other prayer in the suit was that the sale deed 

dated 26th March, 1990, mutation no. 3690 dated 22nd 

November, 1990 as well as judgment and decree dated 19th 

May, 1992, passed in Civil Suit No. 368 dated 9 th March, 

1991 are liable to be set aside. As a consequential relief, it 

was also prayed that the defendants be perpetually 

restrained from interfering with the peaceful possession of 

the plaintiff (petitioner herein) over the suit land. For the 

sake of convenience we are referring the petitioner as the 

plaintiff and the respondents as defendants.

8. In the written statement, the defendants raised a 

number of preliminary objections pertaining to estoppel, 

cause of action and mis-joinder of necessary parties. It was 

specifically denied that the plaintiff ever remained in 

possession of the suit property for the last 55 years. It was 

submitted that the disputed property was still lying vacant. 

However, the plaintiff recently occupied it by using force and 


thereafter have also raised a boundary wall of police line. It 

was denied in the written statement that the plaintiff 

acquired right of ownership by way of adverse possession 

qua property in question. The defendants prayed for 

dismissal of suit and by way of a counter claim also prayed 

for a decree for possession qua suit property be passed. 

9. The Trial Court framed the following Issues in the suit.

 1. Whether plaintiffs have become owner of disputed 

 property by way of adverse possession? OPP

 2. Whether sale deed 26.3.1990 and mutation no. 

 3690 dated 22.11.90 are null and void as alleged? 


 3. Whether judgment and decree dated 19.05.92 

 passed in civil suit no. 368 dated 9.3.91 is liable to 

 be set aside alleged? OPP

 4. Whether the suit of the plaintiff is not maintainable 

 in the present form? OPP

 5. Whether the plaintiff has no locus-standi to file the 

 present suit? OPP

 6. Whether the plaintiff has no cause of action to file 

 the present suit? OPP

 7. Whether the suit of the plaintiff is bad for mis-

 joinder of necessary parties? OPP

 8. Whether defendants no. 1 to 4 are rightful owners of 

 disputed property on the basis of impugned sale 

 deed dated 23.6.1990 registered on 3.7.1990? OPP


 9. Whether defendants are entitled for possession of 

 disputed property? OPP

 10. Relief.

10. Issue No. 1 which relates to adverse possession and 

issue No. 4 pertaining to maintainability were decided 

together. According to the Trial Court, the plaintiff has 

failed to prove the possession over the disputed property 

because the plaintiff could not produce any documentary 

evidence to prove this. On the contrary, revenue records 

placed on the file shows that the defendants are the owners 

in possession of disputed property. The Trial Court 

observed that possession of State, as claimed in the plaint 

for a continuous period of 55 years, stood falsified by the 

documents issued by the officials of the State. 

11. The Trial Court also observed that despite claiming 

adverse possession, there was no pleading qua denial of title 

of the defendants by the plaintiff, so much so that the 

specific day when the alleged possession of State allegedly 

became adverse against the defendants has not been 

mentioned in order to establish the starting point of 

limitation could be ascertained. 


12. The Trial Court relied on the judgment of this Court in 

S.M. Karim v. Mst. Bibi Sakina AIR 1964 SC 1254 

wherein this Court has laid down that the adverse 

possession must be adequate in continuity, in publicity and 

extent and a plea is required at the least to show when 

possession becomes adverse. The Court also held that long 

possession is not necessarily adverse possession.

13. The Trial Court also relied on a decision of the High 

Court of Punjab and Haryana in the case of Bhim Singh & 

Ors. v. Zile Singh & Ors., AIR 2006 P and H 195, 

wherein it was stated that no declaration can be sought by a 

plaintiff with regard to the ownership on the basis of 

adverse possession. 

14. The Trial Court came to specific conclusion that 

despite the fact that the possession of the plaintiff over the 

disputed land is admitted on behalf of defendants, Issue No. 

1 stand decided against the plaintiff. It was held that the 

suit of the plaintiff claiming ownership by way of adverse 

possession is not maintainable. Consequently, Issue No. 1 

was decided against the plaintiff and Trial No. 4 was decided 

in favour of the defendants.


15. The Trial Court decided Issue Nos. 2, 3, 5 and 6 

together and came to the definite conclusion that the 

plaintiff failed to prove its possession over the property in 

question. It was also held that the plaintiff had no locus 

standi to challenge the validity of the impugned sale deed, 

mutation as well as the judgment and decree because the 

plaintiff was neither the owner nor in possession of the 

property in dispute. Consequently, the plaintiff had no right 

to say that the impugned sale deed dated 26th March, 1990 

was a sham transaction and the suit of mutation dated 22nd 

November, 1990 and, thereafter, the judgment and decree 

dated 19th May, 1992 passed in Civil Suit No. 386 dated 9th 

March, 1991 are liable to be set aside. 

16. The Trial Court came to the conclusion that the 

plaintiff having no right or title in the suit property has 

neither locus standi nor cause of action to file the present 

suit. Issue Nos. 2 and 3 were decided against the plaintiff, 

whereas, Issue Nos. 5 and 6 were decided in favour of the 


17. Regarding Issue Nos. 8 and 9, the Trial Court observed 

that once it is held that defendant Nos. 1 to 4 are owners of 


the disputed property, which is presently in possession of 

the plaintiff without any right, they (defendants) are entitled 

to its possession. Hence, Issue Nos. 8 and 9 were also 

decided in favour of the defendants. 

18. Issue No. 7 was not pressed and decided against the 


19. Regarding Issue No. 10 (relief) the Trial Court observed 

as under:

 "As a sequel to the findings of this 

 court on the issues mentioned above, the 

 suit of the plaintiff stands dismissed, 

 however, counter claim filed by 

 defendants is decreed with costs to the 

 effect that they are entitled to possession 

 of land measuring 8 biswas comprising of 

 khewat no. 34 khata no. 56 khasa no. 

 3673/452 situated in revenue estate of 

 Hidayatpur Chhavni village now the part 

 of known as Patel Nagar, Gurgaon. 

 Decree sheet be drawn accordingly. File 

 be consigned to the record room after due 


20. The plaintiff, aggrieved by the judgment of the Trial 

Court filed an appeal (Civil Appeal No. 33) before the learned 

Additional District Judge, Gurgaon. Learned Additional 

District Judge while deciding the appeal, relied on the 

judgment of the Punjab & Haryana High Court delivered in 


the case of Food Corporation of India and Another v. 

Dayal Singh 1991 PLJ 425, wherein it was observed that it 

does not behove the Government to take the plea of adverse 

possession against the citizens. 

21. Learned Additional District Judge also relied on other 

judgments of Punjab & Haryana High Court in the cases of 

Bhim Singh & Ors. (supra) and Kanak Ram & Ors. v. 

Chanan Singh & Ors. (2007) 146 PLR 498 wherein it was 

held that a person in adverse possession of immovable 

property cannot file a suit for declaration claiming 

ownership and such a suit was not maintainable. 

22. Before parting with the judgment the learned 

Additional District Judge observed regarding conduct of the 

plaintiff that the present suit was filed by State of Haryana 

by the then Superintendent of Police, Gurgaon on 11th May, 

1996. It was also observed by the learned Additional 

District Judge that the Police department is for the 

protection of the people and property of the citizens and the 

police department had unnecessarily dragged the 

defendants in unnecessary litigation. The appeal was 

dismissed with exemplary cost of Rs.25,000/-.


23. Unfortunately, despite serious strictures passed by the 

Court, the State of Haryana did not learn a lesson and 

preferred a Second Appeal (RSA No. 3909 of 2008) before 

the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh against 

the judgments and decrees of the two courts below. 

24. The High Court, relying on the earlier judgments, 

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 plea of adverse possession and 

hence the action of the plaintiff is deplorable and 


25. Unfortunately, the State of Haryana, is still not 

satisfied with the three strong judgments by three different 

forums given against the State and is still quite anxious and 

keen to grab the property of the defendants in a clandestine 

manner on the plea of adverse possession. 

26. In a democracy, governed by rule of law, the task of 

protecting life and property of the citizens is entrusted to 

the police department of the government. In the instant 

case, the suit has been filed through the Superintendent of 


Police, Gurgaon, seeking right of ownership by adverse 


27. The revenue records of the State revealed that the 

disputed property stood in the name of the defendants. It is 

unfortunate that the Superintendent of Police, a senior 

official of the Indian Police Service, made repeated attempts 

to grab the property of the true owner by filing repeated 

appeals before different forums claiming right of ownership 

by way of adverse possession. 

28. The citizens may lose faith in the entire police 

administration of the country that those responsible for the 

safety and security of their life and property are on a spree 

of grabing the properties from the true owners in a 

clandestine manner. 

29. A very informative and erudite Article was 

published in Neveda Law Journal Spring 2007 with the 

title `Making Sense Out of Nonsense: A Response to 

Adverse Possession by Governmental Entities'. The 

Article was written by Andrew Dickal. Historical 

background of adverse possession was discussed in that 



Historical background

30. The concept of adverse possession was born in 

England around 1275 and was initially created to allow 

a person to claim right of "seisin" from his ancestry. 

Many felt that the original law that relied on "seisin" 

was difficult to establish, and around 1623 a statue of 

limitations was put into place that allowed for a person 

in possession of property for twenty years or more to 

acquire title to that property. This early English 

doctrine was designed to prevent legal disputes over 

property rights that were time consuming and costly. 

The doctrine was also created to prevent the waste of 

land by forcing owners to monitor their property or 

suffer the consequence of losing title. 

31. The concept of adverse possession was 

subsequently adopted in the United States. The 

doctrine was especially important in early American 

periods to cure the growing number of title disputes. 

The American version mirrored the English law, which 

is illustrated by most States adopting a twenty-year 


statue of limitations for adverse possession claims. As 

America has developed to the present date, property 

rights have become increasingly more important and 

land has become limited. As a result, the time period to 

acquire land by adverse possession has been reduced in 

some States to as little as five years, while in others, it 

has remained as long as forty years. The United States 

has also changed the traditional doctrine by preventing 

the use of adverse possession against property held by a 

governmental entity.

32. During the colonial period, prior to the enactment 

of the Bill of Rights, property was frequently taken by 

states from private land owners without compensation. 

Initially, undeveloped tracts of land were the most 

common type of property acquired by the government, 

as they were sought for the installation of public road. 

Under the colonial system it was thought that benefits 

from the road would, in a newly opened country, always 

exceed the value of unimproved land.


33. The doctrine of adverse possession arose in an era 

where lands were vast particularly in the United States of 

America and documentation sparse in order to give quietus 

to the title of the possessor and prevent fanciful claims from 

erupting. The concept of adverse possession exits to cure 

potential or actual defects in real estate titles by putting a 

statute of limitation on possible litigation over ownership 

and possession. A landowner could be secure in title to his 

land; otherwise, long-lost heirs of any former owner, 

possessor or lien holder of centuries past could come 

forward with a legal claim on the property. Since 

independence of our country we have witnessed registered 

documents of title and more proper, if not perfect, entries of 

title in the government records. The situation having 

changed, the statute calls for a change.

34. In Hemaji Waghaji Jat v. Bhikhabhai Khengarbhai 

Harijan and Others (2009) 16 SCC 517 (one of us 

Bhandari, J.), this Court had an occasion to examine the 

English and American law on "adverse possession". The 

relevant paras of that judgment (Paras 24 and 26 to 29) are 

reproduced as under:


 "24. In a relatively recent case in P.T. 

Munichikkanna Reddy v. Revamma (2007) 6 SCC 

59, this Court again had an occasion to deal with 

the concept of adverse possession in detail. The 

Court also examined the legal position in various 

countries particularly in English and American 

systems. We deem it appropriate to reproduce 

relevant passages in extenso. The Court dealing 

with adverse possession in paras 5 and 6 observed 

as under: (SCC pp. 66-67)

 "5. Adverse possession in one sense is based 

 on the theory or presumption that the owner 

 has abandoned the property to the adverse 

 possessor on the acquiescence of the owner to 

 the hostile acts and claims of the person in 

 possession. It follows that sound qualities of a 

 typical adverse possession lie in it being open, 

 continuous and hostile. (See Downing v. Bird 

 100 So 2d 57 (Fla 1958), Arkansas 

 Commemorative Commission v. City of 

 Little Rock 227, Ark 1085 : 303 SW 2d 569 

 (1957); Monnot v. Murphy 207 NY 240 : 100 

 NE 742 (1913); City of Rock Springs v. 

 Sturm 39 Wyo 494 : 273 P 908 : 97 ALR 1 


 6. Efficacy of adverse possession law in 

 most jurisdictions depends on strong 

 limitation statutes by operation of which right 

 to access the court expires through efflux of 

 time. As against rights of the paper-owner, in 

 the context of adverse possession, there 

 evolves a set of competing rights in favour of 

 the adverse possessor who has, for a long 

 period of time, cared for the land, developed it, 

 as against the owner of the property who has 

 ignored the property. Modern statutes of 

 limitation operate, as a rule, not only to cut off 

 one's right to bring an action for the recovery 

 of property that has been in the adverse 

 possession of another for a specified time, but 


 also to vest the possessor with title. The 

 intention of such statutes is not to punish one 

 who neglects to assert rights, but to protect 

 those who have maintained the possession of 

 property for the time specified by the statute 

 under claim of right or colour of title. (See 

 American Jurisprudence, Vol. 3, 2d, p. 81. It is 

 important to keep in mind while studying the 

 American notion of adverse possession, 

 especially in the backdrop of limitation statutes, 

 that the intention to dispossess cannot be given 

 a complete go-by. Simple application of 

 limitation shall not be enough by itself for the 

 success of an adverse possession claim."

35. A person pleading adverse possession has no equities 

in his favour since he is trying to defeat the rights of the 

true owner. It is for him to clearly plead and establish all 

facts necessary to establish adverse possession. Though we 

got this law of adverse possession from the British, it is 

important to note that these days English Courts are taking 

a very negative view towards the law of adverse possession. 

The English law was amended and changed substantially to 

reflect these changes, particularly in light of the view that 

property is a human right adopted by the European 

Commission. This Court in Revamma (supra) observed 

that to understand the true nature of adverse 

possession, Fairweather v. St Marylebone Property 

Co [1962] 2 WLR 1020 : [1962] 2 All ER 288 can be 


considered where House of Lords referring 

to Taylor v. Twinberrow [1930] 2 K.B. 16 termed adverse 

possession as a negative and consequential right effected 

only because somebody else's positive right to access the 

court is barred by operation of law. As against the rights of 

the paper-owner, in the context of adverse possession, there 

evolves a set of competing rights in favour of the adverse 

possessor who has, for a long period of time, cared for the 

land, developed it, as against the owner of the property who 

has ignored the property.

36. The right to property is now considered to be not only 

constitutional or statutory right but also a human right. 

Human rights have already been considered in realm of 

individual rights such as right to health, right to livelihood, 

right to shelter and employment etc. But now human rights 

are gaining a multi faceted dimension. Right to property is 

also considered very much a part of the new dimension. 

Therefore, even claim of adverse possession has to be read 

in that context.

37. The changing attitude of the English Courts is quite 

visible from the judgment of Beaulane Properties Ltd. v. 


Palmer (2005) 3 WLR 554. The Court here tried to read the 

human rights position in the context of adverse possession. 

But what is commendable is that the dimension of human 

rights have widened so much that now property dispute 

issues are also being raised within the contours of human 

rights. With the expanding jurisprudence of the European 

Courts of Human Rights, the Court has taken an unkind 

view to the concept of adverse possession.

38. Paragraphs from 26 to 29 of Hemaji Waghaji Jat 

(supra) are set out as under:-

 26. With the expanding jurisprudence of the 

 European Court of Human Rights, the Court has 

 taken an unkind view to the concept of adverse 

 possession in the recent judgment of JA Pye 

 (Oxford) Ltd. v. United Kingdom (2005) 49 ERG 

 90 which concerned the loss of ownership of land by 

 virtue of adverse possession. In the said case, "the 

 applicant company was the registered owner of a 

 plot of 23 hectares of agricultural land. The owners 

 of a property adjacent to the land, Mr and Mrs 

 Graham (the Grahams) occupied the land under a 

 grazing agreement. After a brief exchange of 

 documents in December 1983 a chartered surveyor 

 acting for the applicants wrote to the Grahams 

 noting that the grazing agreement was about to 

 expire and requiring them to vacate the land." The 

 Grahams continued to use the whole of the 

 disputed land for farming without the permission of 

 the applicants from September 1998 till 1999. In 

 1997, Mr Graham moved the Local Land Registry 

 against the applicant on the ground that he had 

 obtained title by adverse possession. The Grahams 


challenged the applicant company's claims under 

the Limitation Act, 1980 (the 1980 Act) which 

provides that a person cannot bring an action to 

recover any land after the expiration of 12 years of 

adverse possession by another.

 27. The judgment was pronounced in JA Pye 

(Oxford) Ltd. v. Graham (2000) 3 WLR 242 : 2000 

Ch 676. The Court held in favour of the Grahams 

but went on to observe the irony in law of adverse 

possession. The court observed that the law which 

provides to oust an owner on the basis of inaction of 

12 years is "illogical and disproportionate". The effect 

of such law would "seem draconian to the owner" 

and "a windfall for the squatter". The court 

expressed its astonishment on the prevalent law 

that ousting an owner for not taking action within 

limitation is illogical. The applicant company 

aggrieved by the said judgment filed an appeal and 

the Court of Appeal reversed the High Court 

decision. The Grahams then appealed to the House 

of Lords, which, allowed their appeal and restored 

the order of the High Court.

 28. The House of Lords in JA Pye (Oxford) 

Ltd. v. Graham (2003) 1 AC 419 : (2002) 3 WLR 

221 : (2002) 3 All ER 865 (HL), observed that the 

Grahams had possession of the land in the ordinary 

sense of the word, and, therefore, the applicant 

company had been dispossessed of it within the 

meaning of the Limitation Act of 1980.

 29. We deem it proper to reproduce the 

relevant portion of the judgment in P.T. 

Munichikkanna Reddy v. Revamma (2007) 6 SCC 

59: (SCC p. 79, paras 51-52)

 "51. Thereafter the applicants moved the 

 European Commission of Human Rights 

 (ECHR) alleging that the United Kingdom law 

 on adverse possession, by which they lost land 


to a neighbour, operated in violation of Article 

1 of Protocol 1 to the Convention for the 

Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental 

Freedoms (`the Convention').

 52. It was contended by the applicants that 

they had been deprived of their land by the 

operation of the domestic law on adverse 

possession which is in contravention with 

Article 1 of Protocol 1 to the Convention for the 

Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental 

Freedoms (`the Convention'), which reads as 


 `Every natural or legal person is entitled 

 to the peaceful enjoyment of his 

 possession. No one shall be deprived of his 

 possession except in the public interest 

 and subject to the conditions provided for 

 by law and by the general principles of 

 international law.

 The preceding provisions shall not, 

 however, in any way impair the right of a 

 State to enforce such laws as it deems 

 necessary to control the use of property in 

 accordance with the general interest or to 

 secure the payment of taxes or other 

 contributions or penalties.' "

This Court in Revamma case also mentioned 

that the European Council of Human Rights 

importantly laid down three-pronged test to 

judge the interference of the Government with 

the right of "peaceful enjoyment of property": 

(SCC p. 79, para 53)

 "53. ... [In] Beyeler v. Italy [GC] No. 33202 

of 1996 '' 108-14 ECHR 2000-I, it was held 

that the `interference' should comply with the 

principle of lawfulness and pursue a legitimate 

aim (public interest) by means reasonably 

proportionate to the aim sought to be realised."


 The Court observed:(Revamma case 79-80, 

 paras 54-56)

 "54. ... `The question nevertheless remains 

 whether, even having regard to the lack of care 

 and inadvertence on the part of the applicants 

 and their advisers, the deprivation of their title 

 to the registered land and the transfer of 

 beneficial ownership to those in unauthorized 

 possession struck a fair balance with any 

 legitimate public interest served.

 In these circumstances, the Court 

 concludes that the application of the 

 provisions of the 1925 and 1980 Acts to 

 deprive the applicant companies of their title to 

 the registered land imposed on them an 

 individual and excessive burden and upset the 

 fair balance between the demands of the 

 public interest on the one hand and the 

 applicants' right to the peaceful enjoyment of 

 their possessions on the other.

 There has therefore been a violation of 

 Article 1 of Protocol 1.'

 55. The question of the application of Article 

 41 was referred for the Grand Chamber 

 Hearing of the ECHR. This case sets the field 

 of adverse possession and its interface with the 

 right to peaceful enjoyment in all its 


 56. Therefore it will have to be kept in mind 

 the courts around the world are taking an 

 unkind view towards statutes of limitation 

 overriding property rights."

39. In Hemaji Waghaji Jat case, this Court ultimately 

observed as under:


 "32. Before parting with this case, we deem it 
 appropriate to observe that the law of adverse 

 possession which ousts an owner on the basis of 

 inaction within limitation is irrational, illogical and 

 wholly disproportionate. The law as it exists is 

 extremely harsh for the true owner and a windfall 

 for a dishonest person who had illegally taken 

 possession of the property of the true owner. The 

 law ought not to benefit a person who in a 

 clandestine manner takes possession of the 

 property of the owner in contravention of law. This 

 in substance would mean that the law gives seal of 

 approval to the illegal action or activities of a rank 

 trespasser or who had wrongfully taken possession 

 of the property of the true owner.

 33. We fail to comprehend why the law 
 should place premium on dishonesty by 

 legitimising possession of a rank trespasser and 

 compelling the owner to lose his possession only 

 because of his inaction in taking back the 

 possession within limitation."

Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution - a 

principle of a civilized society

40. Another important development in the protection of 

property rights was the Fifth Amendment. James 

Madison was the drafter and key supporter for the Fifth 

Amendment. The Fifth Amendment states: "nor shall 

private property be taken for public use, without just 

compensation". The main issue is to pay just 

compensation for acquiring the property. There are 

primarily two situations when a landowner may obtain 

compensation for land officially transferred to or 


depreciated by the government. First, an owner may be 

entitled to compensation when a governmental entity 

intentionally acquires private property through a formal 

condemnation proceeding and without the owner's 

consent. The State's power to take property is 

considered inherent through its eminent domain powers 

as a sovereign. Through the condemnation proceedings, 

the government obtains the necessary interest in the 

land, and the Fifth Amendment requires that the 

property owner be compensated for this loss.

41. The second situation requiring compensation 

under Fifth Amendment occurs when the government 

has not officially acquired private property through a 

formal condemnation proceeding, but "nonetheless 

takes property by physically invading or appropriating 

it". Under this scenario, the property owner, at the 

point in which a "taking" has occurred, has the option 

of filing a claim against the government actor to recover 

just compensation for the loss. When the landowner 

sues the government seeking compensation for a taking, 


it is considered an inverse condemnation proceeding, 

because the landowner and not the government is 

bringing the cause of action.

42. We inherited this law of adverse possession from the 

British. The Parliament may consider abolishing the law of 

adverse possession or at least amending and making 

substantial changes in law in the larger public interest. 

The Government instrumentalities - including the police - 

in the instant case have attempted to possess land 

adversely. This, in our opinion, a testament to the absurdity 

of the law and a black mark upon the justice system's 

legitimacy. The Government should protect the property of 

a citizen - not steal it. And yet, as the law currently stands, 

they may do just that. If this law is to be retained, according 

to the wisdom of the 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. 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. 


While it may be indefensible to require all adverse 

possessors - some of whom may be poor - to pay market 

rates for the land they possess, perhaps some lesser 

amount would be realistic in most of the cases. The 

Parliament may either fix a set range of rates or to leave it 

to the judiciary with the option of choosing from within a 

set range of rates so as to tailor the compensation to the 

equities of a given case.

43. The Parliament must seriously consider at least to 

abolish "bad faith" adverse possession, i.e., adverse 

possession achieved through intentional trespassing. 

Actually believing it to be their own could receive title 

through adverse possession sends a wrong signal to the 

society at large. Such a change would ensure that only 

those who had established attachments to the land through 

honest means would be entitled to legal relief. 

44. In case, the Parliament decides to retain the law of 

adverse possession, the Parliament might simply require 

adverse possession claimants to possess the property in 

question for a period of 30 to 50 years, rather than a mere 

12. Such an extension would help to ensure that 


successful claimants have lived on the land for generations, 

and are therefore less likely to be individually culpable for 

the trespass (although their forebears might). A longer 

statutory period would also decrease the frequency of 

adverse possession suits and ensure that only those 

claimants most intimately connected with the land acquire 

it, while only the most passive and unprotective owners lose 


45. Reverting to the facts of this case, if the Police 

department of the State with all its might is bent upon 

taking possession of any land or building in a clandestine 

manner, then, perhaps no one would be able to effectively 

prevent them. 

46. It is our bounden duty and obligation to ascertain the 

intention of the Parliament while interpreting the law. Law 

and Justice, more often than not, happily coincide only 

rarely we find serious conflict. The archaic law of adverse 

possession is one such. A serious re-look is absolutely 

imperative in the larger interest of the people.

47. Adverse possession allows a trespasser - a person 

guilty of a tort, or even a crime, in the eyes of law - to gain 


legal title to land which he has illegally possessed for 12 

years. How 12 years of illegality can suddenly be converted 

to legal title is, logically and morally speaking, baffling. 

This outmoded law essentially asks the judiciary to place its 

stamp of approval upon conduct that the ordinary Indian 

citizen would find reprehensible.

48. The doctrine of adverse possession has troubled a 

great many legal minds. We are clearly of the opinion that 

time has come for change.

49. If the protectors of law become the grabbers of the 

property (land and building), then, people will be left with 

no protection and there would be a total anarchy in the 

entire country. 

50. It is indeed a very disturbing and dangerous trend. In 

our considered view, it must be arrested without further 

loss of time in the larger public interest. No Government 

Department, Public Undertaking, and much less the Police 

Department should be permitted to perfect the title of the 

land or building by invoking the provisions of adverse 

possession and grab the property of its own citizens in the 

manner that has been done in this case. 


51. In our considered view, there is an urgent need for a 

fresh look of the entire law on adverse possession. We 

recommend the Union of India to immediately consider and 

seriously deliberate either abolition of the law of adverse 

possession and in the alternate to make suitable 

amendments in the law of adverse possession. A copy of this 

judgment be sent to the Secretary, Ministry of Law and 

Justice, Department of Legal Affairs, Government of India for 

taking appropriate steps in accordance with law.

52. This Special Leave Petition is dismissed with costs of 

Rs.50,000/- (Rupees Fifty Thousand only) to be paid by the 

State of Haryana 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. The costs be 

deposited within four weeks from the date of pronouncement 

of this judgment. In this petition, we did not issue notice to 

the defendants, therefore, we direct that the costs be 

deposited with the National Legal Services Authority for 

utilizing the same to enable the poor litigants to contest their 



53. This Special Leave Petition being devoid of any merit is 

accordingly dismissed.


 (Dalveer Bhandari)


 (Deepak Verma)New Delhi:September 30, 2011

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