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The suit for possession after determination of tenancy is governed by Article 67 of Limitation Act - tenant can claim adverse possession only after surrendering possession; SC.

Supreme Court of India

Justice Hemant Gupta & Justice L. Nageswara Rao

The SC on March 19, 2020 {NAND RAM (D) THROUGH LRS. & ORS. v. JAGDISH PRASAD (D) THROUGH LRS.} held that the suit for possession would not be covered by Article 65 since there is a specific article i.e. Article 67 dealing with right of the lessor to claim possession after determination of tenancy. It was held that the appellants-plaintiffs have claimed possession from the defendant alleging him to be the tenant and that he had not handed over the leased property after determination of the lease. Therefore, it was held that such suit would fall within Article 67 of the Limitation Act. Further held that such suit having been filed on 13th March, 1981 within 12 years of the determination of lease by efflux of time on 23rd September, 1974, the same is within the period of limitation. Thus, it was held that the findings recorded by the High Court were clearly erroneous in law and the same cannot be sustained and were, thus, set aside by the SC. 

It was held that the respondent continued to be in possession of the land leased vide registered lease deed dated 22nd September, 1954. It was also held that the respondent has admitted the ownership of the appellants before the Reference Court and such plea operates as estoppel against the respondent in respect of the title of the appellants. It was held, however,  the claim of compensation put forward by the respondent was declined for the reason that non-payment of rent disentitles the respondent from compensation. In the present proceedings, it was held that the respondent has denied his status as that of a tenant but claimed title in himself. It was further held that the respondent claimed adverse possession and claimed possession as owner against a person, who has inducted him as tenant. Further held that the respondent was to prove his continuous, open and hostile possession to the knowledge of true owner for a continuous period of 12 years. It was held that the respondent has not led any evidence of hostile possession to the knowledge of true owner at any time before or after the award of the reference Court nor he has surrendered possession before asserting hostile, continuous and open title to the knowledge of the true owner. It was held that the question of adverse possession without admitting the title of the real owner is not tenable. Such question has been examined by the SC in Uttam Chand (D) through LRs. v. Nathu Ram (D) through LRs & Ors. (2020 SCC OnLine SC 37).

The assail in the present appeal was to an order passed by the High Court of Delhi on 12th November, 2010 whereby the appeal filed by the defendant was allowed and the suit for possession of land comprising in Khasra No. 9/19 measuring 3 Bighas 11 Biswas was dismissed.

In view of above, the appeal was allowed and the suit was decreed by the SC; while setting aside the judgment of the HC, whereby it was erroneously held by the HC that the suit is barred by limitation in terms of Article 66 of the Limitation Act.

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