In the eye of law, an owner would be deemed to be in possession of a property so long as there is no intrusion. Non-use of the property by the owner even for a long time won’t affect his title. But the position will be altered when another person takes possession of the property and asserts a right over it.

Adverse possession is a hostile possession by clearly asserting hostile title in denial of the title of true owner. It is a well- settled principle that a party claiming adverse possession must prove that his possession is ‘nec vi, nec clam, nec precario’, that is, peaceful, open and continuous. The possession must be adequate in continuity, in publicity and in extent to show that their possession is adverse to the true owner.

It must start with a wrongful disposition of the rightful owner and be actual, visible, exclusive, hostile and continued over the statutory period.[1]Physical fact of exclusive possession and the animus possidendi to hold as owner in exclusion to the actual owner are the most important factors that are to be accounted in cases of this nature.

Plea of adverse possession is not a pure question of law but a blended one of fact and law. Therefore, a person who claims adverse possession should show,

(a) on what date he came into possession,

(b) what was the nature of his possession,

(c) whether the factum of possession was known to the other party,

(d) how long his possession has continued, and

(e) his possession was open and undisturbed.

A person pleading adverse possession has no equitiesin his favour. Since he is trying to defeat the rights of true owner, it is for him to clearly plead and establish all facts necessary to establish his adverse possession.[2]

Plaintiff, filing a title suit should be very clear about the origin of title over the property. He must specifically plead it[3].

In P Periasami v. P Periathambi (1995) 6 SCC 523 Supreme Court ruled that – “Whenever the plea of adverse possession is projected, inherent in the plea is that someone else was the owner of the property.”

The pleas on title and adverse possession are mutually inconsistent and the latter does not begin to operate until the former is renounced. Dealing with Mohan Lal v. Mirza Abdul Gaffar (1996) 1 SCC 639 that is similar to the case in hand, the Court held:

“As regards the first plea, it is inconsistent with the second plea. Having come into possession under the agreement, he must disclaim his right there under and plead and prove assertion of his independent hostile adverse possession to the knowledge of the transferor or his successor in title or interest and that the latter had acquiesced to his illegal possession during the entire period of 12 years, i.e., up to completing the period his title by prescription nec vi, nec clam, nec precario.

Since the appellant’s claim is founded on Section 53-A, it goes without saying that he admits by implication that he came into possession of land lawfully under the agreement and continued to remain in possession till date of the suit. Thereby the plea of adverse possession is not available to the appellant.”


Karnataka Board of Waqf v. Government of India (2004)

[1] S M Karim v. Bibi Sakinal AIR 1964 SC 1254, Parsinni v. Sukhi (1993) 4 SCC 375 and D N Venkatarayappa v. State of Karnataka (1997) 7 SCC 567

[2] Dr. Mahesh Chand Sharma v. Raj Kumari Sharma (1996) 8 SCC 128

[3] S M Karim v. Bibi Sakinal AIR 1964 SC 1254