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Suit: Suit for declaration of title and injunction – Plaintiffs claiming to be owners of the suit land – Reliance placed on various documents – Trial court decreeing the suit – High Court setting aside the decree – On appeal, held: The suit land was a Government land – The land was not subjected to any land revenue – Documents relied on, do not establish title of the plaintiffs on the lands – Mysore Revenue Manual – Paras 236 and 376 – Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1961 – s. 67. Suit for declaration of title – Against Government and against private individual – Difference between – discussed. Suit for declaration of title against Government – Grant of decree – Criteria for – Discussed. Suit for declaration of title against Government – Onus to prove title – Held: It is for the claimants to establish their title to suit properties – Weakness of Government’s defence or absence of contest, are not sufficient to decree declaratory suits against the Government. Adverse possession – Right adverse to the Government – Claim of – Held: To claim adverse possession, claimant’s possession should be actual, open and visible, hostile to the owner and continued during entire period necessary to create bar under the law of limitation. Appellant-plaintiffs filed the present suit for declaration of title and consequential relief of permanent injunction in respect of the suit land (Survey Nos. 30 and 31), against the respondent-defendants. Appellants claimed to be owners of a tank in Survey No. 30 and a barren land in Survey No. 31. They claimed that the suit land was part of the land owned by their ancestors, and they were in continuous possession of the suit land as owners. The appellants filed a suit for permanent injunction when City Improvement Trusts Board attempted to interfere with their possession of the tank (Survey No. 30). Subsequently the present suit was filed wherein the appellants-plaintiff claimed title over the suit land Survey Nos. 30 and 31, placing reliance on Exs. P1, P2, P10, P11, P12 and P18. During pendency of the present suit, first suit was dismissed. Appeal against the order was also dismissed by High Court observing that the judgment would not affect the pending (present) suit. Plea of the respondent-defendants was that Survey No.30 was a Government tank shown as Kharab land in the revenue records and Survey No. 31 was also a government barren land shown in revenue records as Government Kharab land. Trial court decreed the suit holding that appellants had made out their possession and title with regard to the suit property. High Court, in appeal, set aside the decree. Hence the present appeals. =Dismissing the appeals, the Court HELD: 1.1. The appellants were not registered as the owners or khatedars or occupiers of the suit lands in any revenue records. They did not have any document of title referring to the suit properties. The appellants did not have possession. Even assuming that the tank in Survey No. 30 was repaired/ maintained by the ancestors of plaintiff at some point of time, there is no document to show that the tank was used, maintained or repaired by the appellants or their predecessors during more than half a century before the filing of the suit. The suit has to fail. [Para 21] [926-B-D] 1.2. The High Court, being the first appellate court is the final court of fact. It has, after examining the evidence exhaustively recorded a finding that the appellants have not established their title or possession. There is no error in the findings and conclusions of the High Court. The appellants who came to court claiming title, not having established title, their suit is liable to be dismissed. [Para 19] [925-D-E] 2.1. Suits for declaration of title against the Government, though similar to suits for declaration of title against private individuals differ significantly in some aspects. The first difference is in regard to the presumption available in favour of the Government. All lands which are not the property of any person or which are not vested in a local authority, belong to the Government. All unoccupied lands are the property of the Government, unless any person can establish his right or title to any such land. This presumption available to the Government, is not available to any person or individual. The second difference is in regard to the period for which title and/or possession have to be established by a person suing for declaration of title. Establishing title/possession for a period exceeding twelve years may be adequate to establish title in a declaratory suit against any individual. On the other hand, title/possession for a period exceeding thirty years will have to be established to succeed in a declaratory suit for title against Government. This follows from Article 112 of Limitation Act, 1963, which prescribes a longer period of thirty years as limitation in regard to suits by Government as against the period of 12 years for suits by private individuals. The reason is obvious. Government properties are spread over the entire State and it is not always possible for the Government to protect or safeguard its properties from encroachments. Many a time, its own officers who are expected to protect its properties and maintain proper records, either due to negligence or collusion, create entries in records to help private parties, to lay claim of ownership or possession against the Government. Any loss of Government property is ultimately the loss to the community. Courts owe a duty to be vigilant to ensure that public property is not converted into private property by unscrupulous elements. [Para 15] [921-G-H; 922-A-E] 2.2. Many civil courts deal with suits for declaration of title and injunction against Government, in a casual manner, ignoring or overlooking the special features relating to Government properties. Instances of such suits against Government being routinely decreed, either ex parte or for want of proper contest, merely acting upon the oral assertions of plaintiffs or stray revenue entries are common. Whether the Government contests the suit or not, before a suit for declaration of title against a Government is decreed, the plaintiff should establish, either his title by producing the title deeds which satisfactorily trace title for a minimum period of thirty years prior to the date of the suit (except where title is claimed with reference to a grant or transfer by the Government or a statutory development authority), or by establishing adverse possession for a period of more than thirty years. In such suits, courts cannot, ignoring the presumptions available in favour of the Government, grant declaratory or injunctive decrees against the Government by relying upon one of the principles underlying pleadings that plaint averments which are not denied or traversed are deemed to have been accepted or admitted. [Para 16] [922- G-H; 923-A-B] 2.3. Section 67 of Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1961 declares that all tanks and all lands which are not the property of any person are the property of the State Government. Weakness of Government’s defence or absence of contest, are not therefore sufficient to decree declaratory suits against the Government. It is for the appellants to establish their title to the suit properties. [Para 18] [924-E; 925-B-C] 2.4. A court should necessarily seek an answer to the following question, before it grants a decree declaring title against the Government : whether the plaintiff has produced title deeds tracing the title for a period of more than thirty years; or whether the plaintiff has established his adverse possession to the knowledge of the Government for a period of more than thirty years, so as to convert his possession into title. Incidental to that question, the court should also find out whether the plaintiff is recorded to be the owner or holder or occupant of the property in the Revenue Records or Municipal Records, for more than thirty years, and what is the nature of possession claimed by the plaintiff, if he is in possession – authorized or unauthorized; permissive; casual and occasional; furtive and clandestine; open, continuous and hostile; deemed or implied (following a title). [Para 16] [923-C-E] 2.5. Mere temporary use or occupation without the animus to claim ownership or mere use at sufferance will not be sufficient to create any right adverse to the Government. In order to oust or defeat the title of the Government, a claimant has to establish a clear title which is superior to or better than the title of the Government or establish perfection of title by adverse possession for a period of more than thirty years with the knowledge of the Government. To claim adverse possession, the possession of the claimant must be actual, open and visible, hostile to the owner (and therefore necessarily with the knowledge of the owner) and continued during the entire period necessary to create a bar under the law of limitation. In short, it should be adequate in continuity, publicity and in extent. Mere vague or doubtful assertions that the claimant has been in adverse possession will not be sufficient. Unexplained stray or sporadic entries for a year or for a few years will not be sufficient and should be ignored. By its very nature, a claim based on adverse possession requires clear and categorical pleadings and evidence, much more so, if it is against the Government. [Para 17] [923-F-H; 924-A-B] On facts: 3.1. Exhibit P18 is an extract of the register maintained by the Public Works Department showing the details of tanks in Bangalore Division. The said extract is in respect of Serial No.279 from the said register relating to a tank described as `Maistry Kere’ or `Maistry Palyada Kere’ in Jakkasandra village, the extent of the water body being 11 acres. The name of the tank is followed by the word `private’ in the register and gives particulars of the Achkat area of the tank (that is area of land irrigated by the said tank) in the year 1906-07. The appellants took the plea that the description of the tank as `private’ in the Tank Register would demonstrate that the tank did not belong to the Government and that it was privately owned. The High Court however held that the mere use of the word `private’ after the description of the tank, will not establish appellant’s title or possession in regard to Survey No.30. [Para 5] [916-E-G] 3.2. A reading of Para 376 of the Mysore Revenue Manual shows that a private tank can be constructed by a private individual, either in his own land or on Government unoccupied land. It also shows that private individuals may restore Government tanks. Therefore it follows that when a tank is described as `private’ in the Tank Register, that by itself will not establish that the land where the tank is situated is private land. When a tank enumerated in the Tank Register maintained by the Government, adds to the description of the tank, by the word `private’, it merely shows that the tank in question had been constructed by a private individual but it does not lead to the inference that the land on which the tank is constructed belonged to a private individual. [Para 7] [917-G-H; 918-A-B] 3.3. Para 236 of the Manual shows that a private land on being converted into a private tank would not get full exemption or remission from payment of land assessment, but was extended only a partial remission. In fact, if a tank was constructed on a private land, the land would be continued to be assessed to land revenue with appropriate partial remission. On the other hand, if it is a Government unoccupied land on which a private individual is permitted to construct the tank, it will continue to be shown as Government Kharab land and will not be subjected to any land revenue. In this case neither Survey No.30 nor Survey No.31 is assessed to land revenue and are shown as Government Kharab land in all revenue records (vide Ex. D7, D8, D9, D10, D11 and D12). Unarable lands including tanks are described as Phut Kharab. The Tank register extract (Ex.D15) and other documents produced by respondents show that the tank was breached and BDA had formed a layout in a major portion of the tank land and the remaining area was being developed into a park by the Forest Department. Therefore, Ex. P18 proves that Survey No.30 was not a land owned by a private individual and that it belonged to Government. [Para 8] [918-C-F] 3.4. Ex. P1 which is an extract of Phut Pahani (Inspection Statement showing the old survey numbers and corresponding new numbers of lands and full information regarding tenure and occupancy of the land, described in the Mysore Revenue Manual), did not relate to nor provide proof of ownership of any land. Ex.P1 merely disclosed that when it was inspected on 18.6.1871, survey no.25 of Jakkasandra measuring 10 acres 28 guntas was a tank and that it was repaired by predecessor of appellant. This document therefore does not help the appellants to prove title of their predecessor to the tank. Unless the title to the land on which the tank is situated is established, the mere fact that the tank was shown to have been maintained or repaired by any private individual will not make him the owner of the tank. At best it will show that the tank was maintained by him as a private tank for the purpose of irrigation. [Para 10] [919-D-F] 3.5. Ex.P2 (settlement deed) does not refer to the tank. It does not give the total extent of the land. It does not disclose whether Survey. Nos. 30 and 31 formed part of Dalavai Dinne owned by the ancestors of appellants at any point of time. The settlement deed merely shows that the predecessor of the appellants had settled certain land, known as Dalavai Dinne which was assessed to land revenue, to his son and does not help the appellant to establish title to either survey Nos. 30 or 31. While the settlement deed describes the land settled as land assessed to land revenue, significantly, Survey Nos. 30 or 31 which are now claimed by the appellants as part of Dalavai Dinne were never assessed to land revenue, but were always described as Government Kharab land. Ex.P1 and P2 are therefore of no assistance to the appellants. [Para 11] [919-G-H; 920-A-C] 3.6. Ex.P.10 and P11 are contract notes executed by contractors said to have been engaged by the predecessor of the appellants for execution of certain works relating to the tank at Dalavai Palya. They are not signed by the predecessor of the appellants. Even assuming that the documents (Ex.P10 and P11) are genuine and related to a tank situated in Survey No.30, they would not help the appellants to establish title to Survey No. 30, or Survey. No. 31. [Para 12] [920-E-F] 3.7. Ex.P12 is said to be the Tank Majkur Register Extract maintained by the Assistant Superintendent of Land Records, Bangalore Sub-Division, showing that Re-survey No.30 measured 11 acres 21 guntas and the entire extent was karab (tank) and it corresponded to old survey No.25. It also records that the tank was dug by and was later repaired by predecesors of the appellants about 25 years ago and thereafter no one has repaired it and it is in the state of good repair. The date of inspection or entry is not mentioned and it does in no way help the appellants to prove title to the land. [Para 13] [920-H; 921-A-B] 3.8. The land acquisition reference proceedings relied upon by the appellant did not relate to Survey Nos. 30 or 31. It is related to other lands and the issue before the court was a dispute between the appellant and some other claimants. There is no adjudication of the title of the appellants or their ancestors in regard to Survey Nos. 30 or 31. Nor is there any finding by the court which can support the appellants’ claim to Survey No.30 or Survey No. 31. Therefore, the High Court has rightly rejected the said judgment as not relevant for examining the title of the appellants. [Para 14] [921-C-E] 3.9. The first appellant had earlier filed a suit for a permanent injunction, claiming that he was in possession of Survey. No. 30 (tank). That suit and appeal therefrom were dismissed by recording a finding that he failed to establish possession. The observation of the High Court while dismissing the appeal from the decision in the earlier injunction suit, that the dismissal will not come in the way of plaintiff establishing title in the subsequent suit for declaration of title, will not dilute the finding recorded by the trial court and High Court that the first appellant was not in possession, which has attained finality. [Para 20] [925-F-H; 926-A] CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Civil Appeal No. 1588-1589 of 2008. From the Judgment & Order dated 4.9.2007 of the High Court of Karnataka at Bangalore in R.F.A. No. 448 & 529 of 1996. Raju Ramachandran, Sanjay R. Hegde, Joseph Pookkatt, Bhardwaj, S. Iyengar, S.N. Bhat for the Appellants. S.S. Javeli, Basava Prabhu Patil, S.K. Kulkarni, M. Gireesh Kumar, A.S. Kulkarni, Vijay Kumar, Anitha Shenoy, Rashmi Nanda Kumar for the Respondents.

R. HANUMAIAH & ANR.
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 v.
 SECRETARY TO GOVERNMENT OF KARNATAKA REVENUE
 DEPARTMENT & ORS.
 (Civil Appeal Nos. 1588-1589 of 2008)
 FEBRUARY 24, 2010*
 [R.V. Raveendran and Swatanter Kumar, JJ.]

 2010 (4) SCR 904

 The Order of the Court was delivered by

 ORDER

 R.V. RAVEENDRAN J. 1. These appeals by special leave are by the
plaintiffs in a suit (O.S.No.714 of 1982 before the City Civil Judge, Bangalore
City) for a declaration of title and consequential relief of permanent injunction
in respect of Sy.Nos. 30 and 31 of Jakkasandra Village, Begur Hobli,
Bangalore South Taluk.

 2. The case of plaintiffs in brief is as follows : Plaintiffs are the owners of a
tank called "Maistry Kere" bearing Survey No.30, (Old Survey No.25)
measuring 11 acres 21 guntas and land bearing Survey No.31 (Old Survey
No.26) measuring 1 acre 9 guntas situate in Jakkasandra Village, described
in the plaint schedule as items 1 and 2. The said tank and land were earlier
part of Block No.61 measuring 297 Acres 16 Guntas known as `Dalavai
Dinne', which belonged to their Great great grandfather - Kurakalu
Venkataramana Maistry. That the said Venkataramana Maistry executed a
deed of settlement dated 7.1.1874 (Ex. P.2) settling the said Dalavai Dinne
upon his son Chikkahanumaiah. The said Dalavai Dinne identified as Block
No.61 was re-surveyed and allotted Re-Survey Nos.16, 19, 20, 21, 23, 27 to
35. A portion of the said Dalavai Dinne measuring 102 acres was acquired for
St. John's Medical College under final notification dated 30.4.1963. Another
extent of 180 acres of land therein was acquired for forming of Koramangala
Layout, under final notification dated 28.9.1965. After such acquisition, the
appellants were left with only Survey Nos.30 and 31 (suit schedule items 1
and 2 from out of the Dalavai Dinne) and they continued in possession
thereof as owners. The documents trace their title for more than one and half
centuries; and the suit properties have been owned and possessed by the
family from around 1850, originally by Venkataramana Maistry, later his son
Chikkahanumaiah, thereafter his son Kurakalu Ramaiah, thereafter his son
B.M. Ramaiah, and finally the plaintiffs. When the City Improvement Trusts
Board (predecessor of Bangalore Development Authority) attempted to
interfere with their possession of Maistry Tank (Sy.No.30), the first appellant
filed a suit (OS No.1 of 1976 in the Court of Civil Judge, Bangalore Rural
District later renumbered as OS No.1305 of 1980 on the file of City Civil
Court, Bangalore) for a permanent injunction. However, subsequently the
appellants filed a comprehensive suit - O.S.No.714 of 1982, for a declaration
of title and consequential injunction on 15.3.1982 against Government of
Karnataka and Bangalore Development Authority in regard to Sy.Nos.30 and
31. During the pendency of the second suit, the first suit for injunction was
dismissed on 16.9.1985 and the appeal filed by the appellant against the said
dismissal was also dismissed by the High Court on 20.12.1994, with an
observation that anything stated in the said judgment with reference to the
title to the suit land (Sy.No.30) will not affect the pending suit for declaration
of title in OS No. 714 of 1982.

 3. The respondents resisted the said suit. According to them, Survey
No.30 was a government tank shown as Kharab land in the revenue records.
Survey No.31 was also government barren land shown as Government
Kharab land in the revenue records. The appellants were neither the owners
nor were they in possession of the said survey Nos.30 and 31. On the said
pleadings necessary issues relating to title, adverse possession, relief
claimed were framed and parties went to trial. Both sides let in oral and
documentary evidence. After appreciating the evidence, the trial court by its
judgment dated 19.4.1996 decreed the suit. It held that the appellants had
made out their title and possession in regard to the suit properties. Feeling
aggrieved, the respondents filed an appeal and a learned Single Judge of the
High Court of Karnataka by the impugned judgment dated 4.9.2007, allowed
the appeal, set aside the judgment and decree of the trial court and dismissed
the suit. The High Court held that the appellants had neither made out title
nor possession in respect of the suit properties. The said judgment and
decree is challenged in this appeal by special leave.

 4. The appellants claimed title, and possession on the basis of title. The
revenue records, in particular Ex. D4, D5, D7 to D12, show the two survey
numbers as `Government tank' and `Government barren land'. The names of
appellants are not entered as owners in the revenue records. Though several
documents have been marked by the parties, the entire case of appellants' in
regard to title depends upon the documents Ex. P-1, P-2, P-10, P-11, P-12
and P-18. While the trial court held that these documents established the title
of the appellants and consequently they were entitled to possession, the High
Court on re-examination and re-appreciation of the evidence, in particular, the
said documents, held that the appellants did not make out any title nor
possession in regard to the suit properties. Therefore, the only question that
arise for our consideration is whether Ex. P1, P2, P10, P11, P12 and P18
establish appellants' title to suit properties and whether the High Court
committed an error in law in rejecting the said documents. In view of it, we will
briefly analyse each of these documents.

Re : Ex P.18

 5. Exhibit P18 is an extract of the register maintained by the Public Works
Department showing the details of tanks in Bangalore Division. The said
extract is in respect of Serial No.279 from the said register relating to a tank
described as Maistry Kere or Maistry Palyada Kere in Jakkasandra village,
the extent of the water body being 11 acres. The name of the tank is followed
by the word `private' in the register and gives particulars of the Achkat area of
the tank (that is area of land irrigated by the said tank) in the year 1906-07.
The appellants contend that the description of the tank as `private' in the Tank
register would demonstrate that the tank did not belong to the government
and that it was privately owned. The High Court however held that the mere
use of the word `private' after the description of the tank, will not establish
appellant's title or possession in regard to Survey No.30.

 6. The appellants relied on paras 236(b) and 376 of the Mysore Revenue
Manual in support of their contention that private tanks existed in the State of
Mysore and that the State Government recognized the natural right of private
individuals to construct and own tanks. The appellants contended that when
the records maintained by the Government in the usual course of business,
showed a particular tank as `private', it was a clear admission that the tank
was not a government tank but was privately owned. We may refer to the
provisions of the Mysore Revenue Manual relied on by the appellants.
Section IV thereof related to "Private enterprise tanks". Para 236(b) stated
that there were about 318 private enterprise tanks in the State. Para 376 of
the Manual deals with construction of Saguvali Kattes (irrigation tanks) by the
landholders, the relevant extract of which is extracted below :

 "376 (1). The right of land-holders to construct "Saguvali Kattes" on their
 own lands is not affected by :-

 (a) Section XX, paragraph 13 of the Rules of 1890 under the Land
 Revenue code, which relates to the construction of private tanks on
 Government unoccupied land: or

 (b) Appendix F to the said Rules, which relates to the restoration by
 private individuals of Government tanks and wells long in disuse.

 (2) Private individuals have the natural right to construct tanks on their
 own lands (Kandayam or Inam), so long as they do not thereby materially
 diminish the water flowing in defined channels through their lands for the
 benefit of Government works and private proprietors lower down such
 channels.

 xxxxxxxx

 7. A careful reading of para 376 of the Manual shows that a private tank
can be constructed by a private individual, either in his own land or on
Government unoccupied land. It also shows that private individuals may
restore Government tanks. Therefore it follows that when a tank is described
as `private' in the tank register, that by itself will not establish that the land
where the tank is situated is private land. To put it differently, when a tank
enumerated in the Tank register maintained by the government, adds to the
description of the tank, by the word `private', it merely shows that the tank in
question had been constructed by a private individual but it does not lead to
the inference that the land on which the tank is constructed belonged to a
private individual.

 8. Para 236 shows that a private land on being converted into a private
tank would not get full exemption or remission from payment of land
assessment, but was extended only a partial remission. In fact, if a tank was
constructed on a private land, the land would be continued to be assessed to
land revenue with appropriate partial remission. On the other hand, if it is a
Government unoccupied land on which a private individual is permitted to
construct the tank, it will continue to be shown as Government kharab land
and will not be subjected to any land revenue. In this case neither Sy. No.30
nor Sy.No.31 is assessed to land revenue and are shown as Government
Kharab land in all revenue records (vide Ex. D7, D8, D9, D10, D11 and D12).
Unarable lands including tanks are described as Phut Kharab. The Tank
register extract (Ex.D15) and other documents produced by respondents
show that Maistry Palya tank (Sl.No.279 in the Register) was breached and
BDA had formed a layout in a major portion of the tank land and the
remaining area was being developed into a park by the forest department.
We, therefore, cannot accept the contention of the appellant that Ex. P18,
proves that Survey No.30 was a land owned by a private individual or that it
did not belong to Government.

Re : Ex. P1 and P2

 9. Ex.P2 is the copy of the settlement deed dated 7.1.1874 executed by
Venkataramana Maistry under which he settled upon his son
Chikkahanumaiah, the Dalavai Palya, which was a land assessed to land
revenue, bounded East by Jakkasandra boarder, South by Sabapathi
Modaliyar Garden, West by Muni Reddy land and North by Srinangara Kere.
Ex. P1 which is an extract of Phut Pahani chit of Jakkasandra, relating to
revenue inspection of 18.6.1871. It shows that Survey No.25 measuring 10
acres 38 guntas in Jakkasandra village was a tank and described it as Phut
Kharab land; that it formed part of Block No.61; and that the said tank was
repaired by one Venkataramana Maistry. The appellants rely on Exs. P1 and
P2 to prove the title of his ancestor Venkataramana Maistry in regard to the
old tank situated in Survey No.25 measuring 10 acres 38 guntas and that the
said survey No.25 was part of Block No. 61 (Dalayai Dinne in Jakkasandra)
settled by Venkataramana Maistry on his son under the settlement deed
(Ex.P2) dated 7.1.1874.

 10. Phut Pahani is described in the Mysore Revenue Manual as an
Inspection Statement showing the old survey numbers and corresponding
new numbers of lands and full information regarding tenure and occupancy of
the land. The Phut Pahani did not relate to nor provide proof of ownership of
any land. Ex.P1 merely disclosed that when it was inspected on 18.6.1871,
survey no.25 of Jakkasandra measuring 10 acres 28 guntas was a tank and
that it was repaired by Venkataramana Maistry. This document therefore
does not help the appellants to prove title of Venkataramana Maistry to the
tank. Unless the title to the land on which the tank is situated is established,
the mere fact that the tank was shown to have been maintained or repaired
by any private individual will not make him the owner of the tank. At best it will
show that the tank was maintained by him as a private tank for the purpose of
irrigation.

 11. Ex.P2 (settlement deed) does not refer to the tank. It does not give
the total extent of the land. It does not disclose whether Sy. Nos. 30 and 31
formed part of Dalavai Dinne owned by the ancestors of plaintiffs at any point
of time. The settlement deed merely shows that the Venkataramana Maistry
had settled certain land known as Dalavai Dinne which was assessed to land
revenue to his son Chikkahanumaiah and does not help the appellant to
establish title to either survey Nos.30 or 31. The fact that the ancestors of the
appellants owned a large extent of land in Jakkaasandra village is not in
dispute. In fact the appellant got compensation in regard to 102 acres of land
acquired for St. John's Medical College and 180 acres of land acquired for
Koramangala Layout aggregating to nearly 282 acres of land. While the
settlement deed describes the land settled as land assessed to land
Revenue, significantly, survey Nos. 30 or 31 which are now claimed by the
appellants as part of Dalavai Dinne were never assessed to land revenue, but
were always described as Government Kharab land. Ex.P1 and P2 are
therefore of no assistance to the appellants.

Re : Ex. P10 & P11

 12. The appellant next relied on Ex.P10 and P11 which are two contract
notes. Ex.P10 is said to be of the year 1854-55. Ex.P.11 is said to be of the
year 1865. These are contract notes executed by contractors said to have
been engaged to Venkataramana Maistry for execution of certain works
relating to the tank at Dalavai Palya. They are not signed by Venkataramana
Maistry. As noticed earlier, the fact that Venkataramana Maistry had
constructed a tank or maintained a tank, will not establish ownership to the
land in which a tank was situated. Even assuming that the documents
(Ex.P10 and P11) are genuine and related to a tank situated in Sy. No.30,
they would not help the appellants to establish title to
Sy. No. 30, or Sy. No.31.

Re : Ex.P12

 13. Ex.P12 is said to be the Tank Majkur Register Extract maintained by
the Assistant Superintendent of Land Records, Bangalore Sub-Division,
showing that Re-survey No.30 measured 11 acres 21 guntas and the entire
extent was karab (tank) and it corresponded to old survey No.25. It also
records that the tank was dug by father of Ramaiah of Maistry Palya, that it
was repaired by Ramaiah about 25 years ago and thereafter no one has
repaired it and it is in the state of good repair. The date of inspection or entry
is not mentioned and it does in no way help the appellants to prove title to the
land.

Re : Judgment in Land Acquisition case

 14. The appellant next relied upon the certified copy of the judgment of
the reference court in LA. Misc. No.307 of 1966 by (Principal Civil Judge,
Bangalore City) and connected cases (which the High Court took on record
as evidence while hearing the appeal). The land acquisition reference
proceedings did not relate to Sy Nos. 30 or 31. It is related to other lands and
the issue before the court was a dispute between the appellant and some
other claimants. The judgment sets out the case of the parties that Block
No.61 called as Dalavai Dinne corresponded to survey Nos.16, 19, 20, 21,
23, and 27 to 35 and also refers to some of the documents which are
produced in this case also. There is no adjudication of the title of the
appellants or their ancestors in regard to Survey Nos. 30 or 31. Nor is there
any finding by the court which can support the appellants' claim to Sy. No.30
or Sy.No. 31. Therefore, the High Court has rightly rejected the said judgment
as not relevant for examining the title of the appellants.
Nature of proof required in suits for declaration of title against the
Government

 15. Suits for declaration of title against the government, though similar to
suits for declaration of title against private individuals differ significantly in
some aspects. The first difference is in regard to the presumption available in
favour of the government. All lands which are not the property of any person
or which are not vested in a local authority, belong to the government. All
unoccupied lands are the property of the government, unless any person can
establish his right or title to any such land. This presumption available to the
government, is not available to any person or individual. The second
difference is in regard to the period for which title and/or possession have to
be established by a person suing for declaration of title. Establishing
title/possession for a period exceeding twelve years may be adequate to
establish title in a declaratory suit against any individual. On the other hand,
title/possession for a period exceeding thirty years will have to be established
to succeed in a declaratory suit for title against government. This follows from
Article 112 of Limitation Act, 1963, which prescribes a longer period of thirty
years as limitation in regard to suits by government as against the period of
12 years for suits by private individuals. The reason is obvious. Government
properties are spread over the entire state and it is not always possible for the
government to protect or safeguard its properties from encroachments. Many
a time, its own officers who are expected to protect its properties and
maintain proper records, either due to negligence or collusion, create entries
in records to help private parties, to lay claim of ownership or possession
against the government. Any loss of government property is ultimately the
loss to the community. Courts owe a duty to be vigilant to ensure that public
property is not converted into private property by unscrupulous elements.

 16. Many civil courts deal with suits for declaration of title and injunction
against government, in a casual manner, ignoring or overlooking the special
features relating to government properties. Instances of such suits against
government being routinely decreed, either ex parte or for want of proper
contest, merely acting upon the oral assertions of plaintiffs or stray revenue
entries are common. Whether the government contests the suit or not, before
a suit for declaration of title against a government is decreed, the plaintiff
should establish, either his title by producing the title deeds which
satisfactorily trace title for a minimum period of thirty years prior to the date of
the suit (except where title is claimed with reference to a grant or transfer by
the government or a statutory development authority), or by establishing
adverse possession for a period of more than thirty years. In such suits,
courts cannot, ignoring the presumptions available in favour of the
government, grant declaratory or injunctive decrees against the government
by relying upon one of the principles underlying pleadings that plaint
averments which are not denied or traversed are deemed to have been
accepted or admitted. A court should necessarily seek an answer to the
following question, before it grants a decree declaring title against the
government : whether the plaintiff has produced title deeds tracing the title for
a period of more than thirty years; or whether the plaintiff has established his
adverse possession to the knowledge of the government for a period of more
than thirty years, so as to convert his possession into title. Incidental to that
question, the court should also find out whether the plaintiff is recorded to be
the owner or holder or occupant of the property in the revenue records or
municipal records, for more than thirty years, and what is the nature of
possession claimed by the plaintiff, if he is in possession - authorized or
unauthorized; permissive; casual and occasional; furtive and clandestine;
open, continuous and hostile; deemed or implied (following a title).

 17. Mere temporary use or occupation without the animus to claim
ownership or mere use at sufferance will not be sufficient to create any right
adverse to the Government. In order to oust or defeat the title of the
government, a claimant has to establish a clear title which is superior to or
better than the title of the government or establish perfection of title by
adverse possession for a period of more than thirty years with the knowledge
of the government. To claim adverse possession, the possession of the
claimant must be actual, open and visible, hostile to the owner (and therefore
necessarily with the knowledge of the owner) and continued during the entire
period necessary to create a bar under the law of limitation. In short, it should
be adequate in continuity, publicity and in extent. Mere vague or doubtful
assertions that the claimant has been in adverse possession will not be
sufficient. Unexplained stray or sporadic entries for a year or for a few years
will not be sufficient and should be ignored. As noticed above, many a time it
is possible for a private citizen to get his name entered as the occupant of
government land, with the help of collusive government servants. Only entries
based on appropriate documents like grants, title deeds etc. or based upon
actual verification of physical possession by an authority authorized to
recognize such possession and make appropriate entries can be used
against the government. By its very nature, a claim based on adverse
possession requires clear and categorical pleadings and evidence, much
more so, if it is against the government. Be that as it may.

Position in this case

 18. Section 67 of Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1961 declares that all
tanks and all lands which are not the property of any person are the property
of the state government. Sub-section (1) thereof which is relevant for our
purpose is extracted below :

 "67. Public roads, etc., and all lands which are not the property of
 others belong to the Government.--(1) All public roads, streets, lanes
 and paths, bridges, ditches, dikes and fences, on or beside the same, the
 bed of the sea and of harbours and creeks below high water mark and of
 rivers, streams, nallas, lakes and tanks and all canals and water-courses
 and all standing and flowing waters, and all lands wherever situated
 which are not the property of individuals or of aggregate of persons
 legally capable of holding property, and except in so far as any rights
 of such persons may be established, in or over the same, and except as
 may be otherwise provided in any law for the time being in force, are and
 are hereby declared to be with all rights in or over the same or
 appertaining thereto, the property of the State Government.

 (emphasis supplied)

Weakness of government's defence or absence of contest, are not therefore
sufficient to decree declaratory suits against the government. It is for the
appellants to establish their title to the suit properties.

 19. The respondents have relied upon several documents (mainly
revenue records) to establish that the suit lands belong to the government. It
is not be necessary to examine or refer to them, as the core issue is whether
the appellants who filed the suit for declaration of title against the
government, have made out their title or possession to the suit properties.
The High Court, being the first appellate court is the final court of fact. It has,
after examining the evidence exhaustively recorded a finding that the
appellants have not established their title or possession. We find no error in
the findings and conclusions of the High Court. We concur with the findings of
the High Court, though for reasons slightly different from those of the High
Court. The appellants who came to court claiming title, not having established
title, their suit is liable to be dismissed.

 20. One more aspect requires to be noticed. The first appellant had
earlier filed a suit (OS No.1 of 1976 renumbered as OS No.1305 of 1980) for
a permanent injunction, claiming that he was in possession of Sy. No.30
(tank). That suit and appeal therefrom were dismissed by recording a finding
that he failed to establish possession. The observation of the High Court
while dismissing the appeal from the decision in the earlier injunction suit, that
the dismissal will not come in the way of plaintiff establishing title in the
subsequent suit for declaration of title, will not dilute the finding recorded by
the trial court and High Court that the first appellant was not in possession,
which has attained finality.

 21. No other material has been relied upon by the appellants to establish
their title or possession. The appellants were not registered as the owners or
khatedars or occupiers of the suit lands in any revenue records. They did not
have any document of title referring to the suit properties. The appellants did
not have possession. Even assuming that the tank in Sy.No. 30 was repaired/
maintained by the ancestors of plaintiff at some point of time, there is no
document to show that the tank was used, maintained or repaired by the
appellants or their predecessors during more than half a century before the
filing of the suit. The suit has to fail.22. For the aforesaid reasons, we find no ground to interfere with the
judgment and decree of the High Court. The appeals are dismissed. The
application for intervention is also dismissed.

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