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Recovery of Possession of Immovable Property

A wide-ranging number of remedial facets of the law have been taken into consideration by the Specific Relief Act of 1963. Established on the principle of Ubi jus ibi remedium, ensures that every person who is wronged in the social process must have a social redress. Even though this act of 1963 focuses only on the administration of civil rights and not the penal laws, but also the civil laws are necessary to take into consideration the rights of an individual, in case of violation of which severe violent clashes can occur. Such is the recovery of possession of property either movable or immovable by the procedure of the Code of Civil Procedure of 1908.

The term possession does not only mean bare occupation or actual use[1]. This remedy provided under the Specific Relief Act, 1963, includes recovery of the possession of the specific property, i.e., relief in specie instead of any damage money or compensation, and is one of the hallowed aspects provided by the equity of the common law.

Recovery Of Possession Of Immovable Property

Section 5 and section 6 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963 provides that any individual who is entitled to the lawful possession of the immovable property can recover such possession through due course of law by three types of actions:
  • An action instituted on the title based on ownership
  • An action based upon the possessory title
  • An action based on preceding possession instituted in the plaintiff where he has been dispossessed against his free will
  • The objective of section 6 is to restrain an individual who through force or against the will of the plaintiff who has been in an uninterrupted long-standing possession of the property, dispossess him of the property, otherwise than in due course of law.
  • This was observed in the case, Puthukkattil Parangodan v Puthukkattil Parameswaram[2], where the essentials of the tenancy were absolutely destroyed and the tenancy automatically terminated. Even so, the landlord was eligible to claim the property only through the court process.

Recovery Of Possession Of Movable Property

Section 7 and section 8 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963 establishes remedies to recover possession of the specific movable property by the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. Section 8 provides conditions under which a person when in present control of the property but not as the owner is liable to return the property to the person is entitled to the immediate possession.

Research Questions
Who can seek relief under the act of Recovery of Possession of Property under Specific Relief Ac, 1963, and under what conditions?
Is it necessary for the plaintiff to prove his title for the recovery of possession of the property?

Who Can Seek Recovery Of Possession Of Immovable Property

Under section 5 and 6 of the Specific Relief Act of 1963, it has been established that a person who is disposed of his immovable property can claim the property through this remedy.
It is a principle of law which defines that an individual, who has been enjoying an extensive uninterrupted possession of the immovable property, can recover the property by seeking an injunction in against any individual in the world other than the valid owner of the property.

Article 65 To Schedule I Of The Limitation Act, 1963

provides with the duration of 12 years, within which any individual who seeks to recover his property or as a beneficiary, can initiate an action following the due course of law provided that it is proved that his possession was peaceful, open and continuous.
Under section 6, a suit can be brought by the person disposed of by his immovable property against his free consent and otherwise than in due course of law; he may recover the possession thereof.

This was observed in K.K. Verma v Union of India[3] that even after the tenancy agreement was terminated; tenant still occupied that right to hold juridical possession and he can only be dispossessed until the owner gets an order of eviction against the tenant.

Requisites Of Section 6 Of Specific Relief Act, 1963

The plaintiff must have judicial possession at the time of dispossession.
In MC Batra vs Lakshmi Insurance Co. Ltd[4] , it was observed that this section states nothing about the nature of possession of the person dispossessed.
Still, it was seen in some cases that this possession must be what is defined as judicial possession, which is the possession founded on certain rights.

Dispossession of the plaintiff should be against his will otherwise than in due course of law.

The suit under this act must be initiated within six months from the date of dispossession.

Dispossession should be made by any person other than the government.

No appeal shall lie from any decree passed in any case initiated under this section, nor is obliged for any review of any such claim would be allowed.

Who Can Seek Recovery Of Possession Of Movable Property

Under section 7 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963, a person who is entitled to the possession of the particular movable property can recover the same through this relief by following the Civil Code of Procedure of 1908. Only such individuals can institute a suit under section 7, who occupies the current possession of the movable things. There are two explanations to the person who can seek this remedy.

Explanation 1
A Trustee can sue under this act following the procedure for the recovery of the movable property he is beneficiary entitled for.

Explanation 2
To support a suit under this section, a temporary or special right to current possession of the movable property is sufficient to prove possession of the property.

Prerequisites Of Section 7 Of Specific Relief Act, 1963

The plaintiff must be authorized to the ownership of the movable property.

A person may be qualified to the possession of a property either by ownership or under an interim or a special right, as described under Explanation 2 of section 7.

A special or interim right to an individual may emerge by either action of the owner of goods or not by the action of the owner of goods enjoy the special right to possession except against true owner.

The property to be recovered, i.e., the specific movable property should be ascertained and ascertainable to be specific.[5] But, if the property no longer remains recoverable, the remedy lies in compensation[6] , and the plaintiff cannot file a seek remedy under this section.

Under section 8 lays down the conditions under which a person is liable to return the property to the true owner, this person should have the possession of the property but not as the true owner, he is considered a trustee or agent. It is the liability of the person to return the property immediately to the plaintiff if:

Property is held as a trustee or agent
In the case, Wood v Rowcliffe[7], it was observed that the plaintiff left his furniture in the care of his friend, who will be considered as a trustee. This friend was ordered to return the furniture to the true owner when demanded.

When compensation is not adequate relief
It was observed in Ganga Bishan v Jai Narain[8], that proof of entrustment of the property would be necessary and that the property may not have an intrinsic value, but could have a special consideration for the owner which could not be estimated in money.

Ascertainment of the property is not possible

When possession of the property was wrongfully transferred to the plaintiff

Title Of The Plaintiff

For recovery of immovable property under section 5 of The Specific Relief Act, 1963, the plaintiff is entitled to property if he proves to have a better title. The title can be through either ownership or possession. In the case of Ismail Ariff vs Mohammaed[9], the Privy Council ordained that the possession of the plaintiff was adequate evidence to be declared with the title of the owner of the titled property.

Section 6 instructs explicitly that the party is not forbidden from establishing their title of the property through the suit initiated to claim back the property. It was observed in Sanwal Ram v Ramjan[10], that uninterrupted long-standing possession of the property is sufficient to prove the actual possession under this act. Question of title can be ignored.

The possession should have been judicial, i.e., possession sanctioned by law. It should neither be by force nor by fraud, in the case Nayar Service Society Ltd vs K.C. Alexander[11], it was expressed that trespasser does not possess the right to disturb the peaceful possession of a long time of person and cannot gain benefit out of his illegal act.

Only such individuals can institute a suit under section 7, who occupies the current possession of the movable things. It can be special or a temporary right. However, it is not necessary that the plaintiff should have been removed from his possession.

Under section 8, the defendant has complete domination of possession of the good claimed, but the defendant is not the true owner of the good. The thing claimed by the plaintiff was held by the defendant only as an agent.

Under clause:
  1. that states that when the defendant has temporary possession of the property as a trustee, the implication lies on the plaintiff to prove the relationship.
    Similarly, under clause (d) which provides that when the good in question was unjustly removed from the possession of the plaintiff, also, the implication on the part of the plaintiff to prove unjust transfer.

The remedy of Recovery of Possession of Property under Specific Relief Act, 1963 recompenses the possessory title of the rightful possessor once again through the appropriate intervention by the court, becomes essential because The Indian Contract Act, 1872 gives only compensation in case of breach of contract. Hence such remedy becomes necessary where damage is not ascertainable, and compensation is not adequate relief.

Through section 5 and 6, a person can recover his immovable property through due course of law, and movable property through section 7 and 8. As observed above, it is an equitable remedy which provides the specific relief to the aggrieved person by the recovery of his movable or immovable property. It is beneficiary against the unlawful dispossession and also maintains the long term peaceful possession of the property being preserved by individuals trying to gain benefit with their fraudulent actions providing equity among people.

  1. Lala Bishumbhar Nath v. Nisar Ali AIR 1932 Oudh 51
  2. Puthukkattil Parangodan v. Puthukkattil Parameswaram, AIR 2002 Ker 221
  3. K.K. Verma v Union of India 1954
  4. MC Batra v. Lakshmi Insurance Co. Ltd AIR 1956 All 709
  5. Murugesa Mudali v. Jotharam Davay (1899) ILR 22 Mad 478
  6. Jaldu Venkatasubba Rao v. Asiatic Steam Navigation Co. AIR 1916 Mad 314
  7. Wood v Rowcliffe (1844) 64 RR 303
  8. Ganga Bishan v Jai Narain, (1986) 1 SCC 75: AIR 1986 SC 441
  9. Ghouse Ismail Ariff v Mohammaed Ghouse, Bengal HC (1893)
  10. Sanwal Ram v Ramjan, AIR 2016 Chh 48
  11. Nayar Service Society Ltd v K.C. Alexander AIR 1968 SC 1165

    Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Falgun Wairya
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