Judgement of the day: SHRI UTTAM CHAND V. NATHU RAM & ORS.
In the present case, the plaintiff filed a suit for possession on the basis of purchase of suit property from the Managing Officer, Department of Rehabilitation, Government of India in a public auction held on 21st March, 1964. The certificate of sale was issued thereafter on 4 th January, 1965. The plaintiff filed a suit for possession on 17th February, 1979 before district court alleging the defendants to be in an unauthorised possession of the suit property and who have refused to vacate the same.
Whereas the defendants in the written statement denied that the plaintiff is the owner of the property. The defendants asserted that their house existed on the property in question for more than the last two centuries. The grandfather of the defendants was said to be in possession of the property as owner, thereafter their father one Tara Chand and now all the defendants are in possession of the property as owners. It was denied that the property was ever vested with the Managing Officer and, therefore, it was claimed that the Managing Officer has no authority or jurisdiction to auction the property in question. It was asserted by the defendants; therefore, the plaintiff has no interest, right or title in the property.
SC held that the defendants have not admitted the vesting of the suit property with the Managing Officer and the factum of its transfer in favour of the plaintiff. The defendants have denied the title not only of the Managing Officer but also of the plaintiff. The plea of the defendants is one of continuous possession but there is no plea that such possession was hostile to the true owner of the suit property. It was held that the evidence of the defendants is that of continuous possession. Some of the receipts pertain to 1963 but possession since November, 1963 till the filing of the suit will not ripe into title as the defendants never admitted the plaintiff-appellant to be owner or that the land ever vested with the Managing Officer. Further held that the findings recorded by the High Court that the defendants have perfected their title by adverse possession are not legally sustainable. Consequently, the judgment and decree passed by the High Court was set aside and the suit was decreed. The appeal was allowed by the SC - decreeing the suit.
If the defendants are not sure who the true owner is, the question of them being in hostile possession as well as of denying the title of the true owner does not arise. (Para 11)
If the plea is one of continuous possession but there is no plea that such possession was hostile to the true owner of the suit property, then such possession will not ripe into title. (Inference drawn on the basis of Para 16)