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Nirmal Chand Vs. Gaya Prasad Dikshit and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty;Civil
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSecond Appeal No. 1287 of 1974
Judge
Reported inAIR1979All54
ActsLimitation Act, 163 - Schedule - Article 65
AppellantNirmal Chand
RespondentGaya Prasad Dikshit and anr.
Appellant AdvocateRadha Krishna and ;P. Krishna, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateB. Dikshit, Adv.
DispositionAppeal allowed
Excerpt:
limitation - suit for possession - article 65 of limitation act, 1963 - suit claiming possession alleged to be barred by limitation - licensee allowed to remain in possession even after notice of determination of license - forbearance by licensor from dispossessing does not raise presumption of abandonment of title - relief of possession not barred by limitation. - cantonments act[c.a. no. 41/2006]. section 346 & cantonment fund (servants rules, 1937, rules 13, 14 & 15: [h.l. gokhale, ag. cj, p.v. hardas, naresh h. patil, r.m. borde & r.m. savant, jj] jurisdiction of school tribunal constituted under maharashtra employees of private schools (conditions of service) regulations act, (3 of 1978) held, school run by the cantonment board is a primary school and it is not a school recognised..........dixit, hereinafter be referred to as dixit, is the grandson of the real sister of behari lal, dr. rama shanker is the son of behari lal. dixit was living in the disputed portion of the house, which consists of a room, a kitchen, a verandah and a kothari. some dispute arose between dr. rama shanker on the one hand and dixit on the other, whereupon dr. rama shanker filed original suit 521 of 1957 for possession over the disputed portion of the house. this suit was compromised and in terms of the said compromise a decree was passed. it provided that dixit shall remain in occupation of the disputed portion of the house as a licensee of dr. rama shanker. some time in 1959 dixit gave a notice to dr. rama shanker claiming that he was a licensee of the disputed portion for a period of 20 years......
Judgment:

S.J. Hyder, J.

1. The only question which calls for determination in this second appeal is one of limitation. The relevant facts in the context of which this question requires to be answered, have been finally determined by the final court of facts. The said facts could not be and have not been rightly disputed before me.

2. Shortly stated the dispute between the parties relates to a small portion of a house. This house originally belonged to one Dr. Rama Shankar. Defendant respondent No. 1 Gaya Prasad Dixit, hereinafter be referred to as Dixit, is the grandson of the real sister of Behari Lal, Dr. Rama Shanker is the son of Behari Lal. Dixit was living in the disputed portion of the house, which consists of a room, a kitchen, a verandah and a Kothari. Some dispute arose between Dr. Rama Shanker on the one hand and Dixit on the other, whereupon Dr. Rama Shanker filed original suit 521 of 1957 for possession over the disputed portion of the house. This suit was compromised and in terms of the said compromise a decree was passed. It provided that Dixit shall remain in occupation of the disputed portion of the house as a licensee of Dr. Rama Shanker. Some time in 1959 Dixit gave a notice to Dr. Rama Shanker claiming that he was a licensee of the disputed portion for a period of 20 years. Thereupon Dr. Rama Shanker served a notice on Dixit revoking his licence. This notice was served through a counsel. Dr. Rama Shanker, who appeared as a witness in the case giving rise to this second appeal, denied having caused any such notice to be served on Dixit. His denial, however, has not been believed by the lower appellate court. The notice of revocation of licence is dated 26-12-1959. Nothing happened thereafter and Dixit continued to remain in possession of the disputed portion of the house. On May, 5, 1972 Dr. Rama Shanker transferred the property by means of a sale-deed to the plaintiff appellant, who obtained possession over the whole house except the portion, which is now in dispute between the parties. Plaintiff appellant served a notice dated July 10, 1972, on Dixit asking him to vacate the disputed portion, and on his failure to do so instituted the suit for possession. It is this suit, which has given rise to this second appeal.

3. All the pleas raised by Dixit in his defence need not be stated here as the controversy is now confined only to the question of adverse possession claimed by Dixit. On this question and other issues, the trial court found in favour of the plaintiff appellant and decreed the suit. On an appeal preferred by Dixit the lower court of appeal recorded findings which have been summarised above. On the question of limitation the first court of appeal reversed the finding of the trial court and dismissed the suit of the plaintiff appellant.

4. The appellate court below has taken the view that after the service of the notice by Dr. Rama Shanker in 1959 the licence granted to Dixit by means of the compromise decree in Original Suit No. 521 of 1957 stood revoked. His position thereafter was that of a trespasser and the suit for possession having been instituted on August, 9, 1972 was well beyond 12 years of the service of the notice dated 26-12-1959 and as such the relief of possession claimed by the plaintiff appellant was barred by limitation.

5. The plaintiff appellant has now preferred this second appeal and the counsel appearing on his behalf has contended that the finding recorded by the court below on the question of limitation is incorrect.

6. In arriving at the conclusion, that the suit of the plaintiff appellant was barred by Article ?5 of the Limitation Act, 1963, the court below has relied on M. N. Clubwala v. Fida Hussain Saheb : [1964]6SCR642 ; Sukhbasi Lal v. Durjan Singh : AIR1963All119 and Beant Singh v. Cantonment Executive Officer AIR 1960 J&K; 83. I would not have burdened this judgment by referring to these cases in some detail but for the fact that these are the only authorities which have been relied before me on behalf of Dixit,

7. In the case of M, N. Clubwala (supra) the Supreme Court was called upon to decide whether the transaction between the parties to that case was' a lease or a licence. Several tests were laid down by the Supreme Court for drawing a distinction between a lease and a licence. While dealing with that question it was observed that mere necessity of giving a notice to a licensee requiring him to vacate the licensed premises would not indicate that the transaction was a lease. This case throws no light on the controversy which requires a solution in this second appeal.

8. Case of Sukhbasi Lal : AIR1963All119 (supra), is a single Judge decision of this Court, in a second appeal. The suit was filed by the plaintiff in that case for possession of a house and the land surrounding it, which had been described as a Sahen. He alleged that he was the owner of the house situated in the Abadi of the village and the house and the Sahen in dispute was let out to the defendant on rent who had refused to vacate the same in spite of the service of the notice of ejectment.

9. The defendant contested the suit on various grounds. Suffice it to say that the final court of facts found that the defendant in that case had built the house with the permission of the plaintiff and as such the licence had become irrevocable both in so far as it related to the house and also in respect of the sahen land. In second appeal Dhawan J. concurred with the finding of the lower appellate court in so far as the constructed portion of the disputed property was concerned. He disagreed with the finding of the lower appellate court so far as it related to the sahen land. In respect of that portion, which was described as sahen land in that case, the learned single judge was of the opinion that it was only held by the defendant of that case as a bare licensee and his licence had been duly revoked. In that context an argument was raised on behalf of the defendant of that case that he was at all events in adverse possession of the sahen land. This contention was negatived by Dhawan J. in the following words :-

'A revocable licence cannot give the licensee any title by adverse possession unless he remains in possession after it is revoked.'

It may be stated at once that the facts of Sukhbasi Lal (supra) were distinguishable. At all events the second part of the observation of the learned single judge extracted above is only an obiter.

10. The next case which calls for consideration is a single Judge decision of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in re. Beant Singh (AIR 1960 J & K 83), (supra). In that case the appellant was a bare licensee of some land. His licence had been duly revoked but he nevertheless brought the suit against his licensor for permanent injunction restraining him from dispossessing the appellant from the subject matter of the licence. It was held that the appellant in that case had no right to claim the relief sought as his right of occupation had ceased. This case has little relevance to the controversy in the present second appeal.

11. The cases referred to in the judgment of the lower appellate court and relied upon on behalf of Dixit in this court are of little assistance in deciding the question relating to the prescriptive title pleaded by him in his written statement. But as already stated it has been found as a fact by the court of appeal below that Dr. Rama Shankar terminated the licence of Dixit by a notice dated 26-12-1959 but thereafter he took no steps to evict Dixit from the disputed portion of the house. The question, therefore, which requires a closer look is whether this forebearance on the part of Dr. Rama Shankar vested rights of ownership in Dixit under Article 65 of the Limitation Act, Before proceeding any further it is necessary also to mention that there is not even a murmer either in the pleadings or in the evidence of Dixit that he ever claimed to be in possession over the portion of the house in dispute in his own right before the action giving rise to this second appeal was filed by the plaintiff-appellant who is a transferee of Dr. Rama Shankar. The suit out of which this second appeal arises was no doubt filed much more than 12 years after the service of the notice dated 26-12-1959.

12. It is necessary to sound a note of caution at this stage. Before examining the validity of prescriptive title claimed by Dixit the vision should not be allowed to be blurred by a host of decided cases dealing with the application of Article 142 of the Limitation Act of 1908. The said article of the repealed Act provided that limitation for suit for possession of immoveable property by a plaintiff, who while in possession had been dispossessed or had discontinued possession, was 12 years from the date of such dispossession or discontinuance. Article 144 of the said Act also related to the suit for possession of immoveable property and it laid down that in a case not otherwise specially provided for in the said Act the period of limitation was 12 years from the date when the possession of the defendant became adverse to the plaintiff. Initially there was some controversy with regard to the interpretation of these two articles of the Limitation Act of 1908. One view was that Article 142 applied only to a suit based on prior possession and Article 144 was attracted to a suit based on title. In the majority of cases it was held that Article 142 applied to all cases whether based on prior possession or on title, if the cause of action of the plaintiff was based on his dispossession or his discontinuance of possession. This controversy was finally settled so far as this court is concerned by a Full Bench in Bindhyachalchand v. Ram Gharib : AIR1934All993 . The Full Bench approved the later view. The opinion expressed by the Full Bench in that case held ground until the Limitation Act of 1908 was repealed and substituted by the Limitation Act of 1963.

13. The law relating to limitation applicable to suits for possession of immoveable property has been changed by the Limitation Act of 1963. Article 64 of the new Act deals with suits for possession of immoveable property based on previous possession and the period provided there under for filing such suits is 12 years from the date of dispossession. Article 65, with which we are concerned in this second appeal, lays down the limitation for institution of suits for possession of immoveable property based on title. The period of limitation for filing such suits is 12 years from the date when the possession of the defendant becomes adverse to the plaintiff. In the notes of clauses attached to the Bill, which later became the Limitation Act of 1963, it is laid down as under:-

'Articles 142 and 144 of the existing Act have given rise to a good deal of confusion with respect to the suits for possession by the owners of the property. Article 64 as proposed replaces Article 142, but it is restricted to a suit based on possessory title so that an owner of the property does not lose unless the defendant in possession is able to prove adverse possession.'

The decided cases, which have applied Article 142 to suits for possession, are therefore, of no assistance in deciding the issue in this second appeal.

14. The law of limitation deals with the effect of lapse of time in creating and destroying rights. The vestive or divestive fact under the law is the lapse of time limited by the said Act for the institution of the suit. The law of limitation may be of two kinds. It may operate positively and when it does so it creates rights in a person which he did not previously possess. In this sense limitation or prescription is acquisitive. The law of limitation may also act negatively and its operation may only be extinctive of existing rights. Article 65 of Limitation Act of 1963 acts positively. A person in possession of a property acquires rights by prescription, if he has been in such possession adversely to the true owner. On the other hand Article 64 operates negatively and it destroys right of a person without creating right in another person. It may be that the negative and positive aspects of limitation may coincide; for instance, when a person acquires title by adverse possession, the title of the true owner is extinguished. However, in such cases negative aspect of the law of limitation comes into play as a consequence of its positive operation.

15. If occupation by A of an immoveable property belonging to B is to operate as a vestive fact, his possession must be adverse to that of B. There is a real distinction between adverse possession and possession simpliciter. Possession in order to be adverse must be hostile to that of the true owner. If it is to be a vestive fact the intent to possess in one's own right must be there, adverse possession cannot operate in vacuo. I am clearly of the opinion that the Article 65 of the Limitation Act, 1963 applies not merely to the want of actual possession by the real owner, it comes into play only when the person in actual occupation for the statutory period is in such occupation in denial of the title of the true owner. The fundamental principle of law is that there can be no adverse possession without animus to prescribe. In other words, there can be no acquisitive prescription without the intent to acquire property of which another is the owner. See B. Budhram Rai v. Benarsi Rai : AIR1948All31 , Smt. Bibhabati Devi v. Ramendra Narayan Roy AIR 1947 PC 19, Lachhimi Nath Pathak v. Bholanath Pathak : AIR1964All383 and State Bank of Travancore v. Arvindan Kunju Panicker : AIR1971SC996 .

16. The view which I have taken above also finds support from the following dictum of Lord Denning Master of the Rolls in Wallis's Cayton Bay Holiday Camp Ltd. v. Shell-Mex (1974) 3 WLR 387:

'Possession by itself is not enough to give a title. It must be adverse possession. The true owner must have discontinued possession or have been dispossessed and another must have taken it adversely to him. There must be something in the nature of an ouster of the true owner by the wrongful possessor.'

For the reasons herein above stated I am of the view that mere service of notice by Dr. Rama Shanker, revoking the licence of Dixit, without anything more did not create any cloud on the title of Dr. Rama Shanker. There was no secret process, which was set in motion by the said notice for the benefit of Dixit, who was in physical occupation of the disputed portion of the property.

17. The court of appeal below was impressed by the fact that on the service of the notice dated 26-12-1959 Dixit became a trespasser. Assuming that it was so, Dixit never claimed to be in possession of the disputed portion of the house in his own right. Salmond in his book Law of Torts XIV Edn. has observed as follows at page 281,

'The word trespasser had an ugly sound, but it covers the wicked and innocent. The burglar and the arrogant demonstrator are trespassers, but so are all sorts of comparatively innocent and respectable persons ............'

As stated earlier Dixit was closely related to Dr. Rama Shanker. Dr. Rama Shanker allowed him to remain in possession of his house as a licensee, in 1957 he felt annoyed with Dixit and filed a suit for his dispossession, but ultimately compromised the matter and permitted Dixit to continue in occupation as a licensee. It is true that on 26-12-1959 he revoked the licence but did not take any step to dispossess Dixit. There is no evidence on record that after the service of the notice revoking the licence Dixit was in possession in his own right or against the wishes of Dr. Rama Shanker. From the relationship between Dr. Rama Shanker on the one hand and Dixit on the other and other surrounding circumstances the legitimate inference to be drawn is that Dixit's possession was due to a generosity or bounty of Dr. Rama Shanker. It is precisely for this reason that Dixit never claimed to be in possession of the portion of the house in dispute before the institution of the suit giving rise to this second appeal. The evidence on record is that Dixit was using the portion of the house and was not in its legal possession. In Wallis's Cayton Bay Holiday Camp Ltd. supra, Lord Denning M. R. has observed as follows :-

'The line between acts of user and acts of possession is too fine for words. The reason behind the decisions, is because it does not lie in that other person's mouth to assert that he used the land of his own wrong as a trespasser. Rather his user is to be ascribed to the licence or permission of the true owner. By using the land, knowing that it does not belong to him, he impliedly assumes that the owner will permit it; and the owner, by not turning him off, impliedly gives permission. And' it has been held many times in this court that acts done under licence or permitted by the owner do not give a licensee a title under the Limitation Act, 1939. They do not amount to adverse possession.'

18. From the circumstances in this case, which I have dealt above the forbearance shown by Dr. Rama Shanker in allowing Dixit to continue in possession in spite of the notice dated 26-12-1959 no inference can be drawn that Dr. Rama Shanker intended to abandon his title to portion of the house, the rest of which was admittedly in his possession.

19. It has been argued on behalf of Dixit that in his testimony before the trial court Dr. Rama Shanker did not take up any case that Dixit was in permissible possession of the disputed portion of the house. This contention is wholly untenable. It has been consistently stated by Dr. Rama Shanker that Dixit's possession over the disputed portion of the house was with his permission. In my opinion the lower appellate court was clearly in error in reversing the decree passed by the trial court.

20. The result in that this appeal succeeds and is hereby allowed. The decree of the lower appellate court is set aside and the decree of the trial court is restored. The appellant shall be entitled to his costs of this appeal and also of the two courts below. The cross-objection is also dismissed with costs.


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