SC:State can’t perfect title by adverse possession to grab citizens’ property

The Hon’ble Supreme Court, on 8th January 2020, in the matter of Vidya Devi v. The State Of Himachal Pradesh & Ors. pronounced that the State cannot be permitted to perfect its title over the land by invoking the doctrine of adverse possession to grab the property of its own citizens.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that:

To forcibly dispossess a person of his private property, without following due process of law, would be violative of a human right, as also the constitutional right under Article 300 A of the Constitution. (Para 10.2)

The State being a welfare State, cannot be permitted to take the plea of adverse possession, which allows a trespasser i.e. a person guilty of a tort, or even a crime, to gain legal title over such property for over 12 years. The State cannot be permitted to perfect its title over the land by invoking the doctrine of adverse possession to grab the property of its own citizens. (Para 10.6)

Delay and laches cannot be raised in a case of a continuing cause of action, or if the circumstances shock the judicial conscience of the Court. Condonation of delay is a matter of judicial discretion, which must be exercised judiciously and reasonably in the facts and circumstances of a case. It will depend upon the breach of fundamental rights, and the remedy claimed, and when and how the delay arose. There is no period of limitation prescribed for the courts to exercise their constitutional jurisdiction to do substantial justice. (Para 10.7)

Copy of judgement:Judgement_08-Jan-2020

-Adv. Tushar Kaushik

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