The Honourable Supreme Court of India recently passed a judgement which profoundly impacts the Indian diaspora living overseas. This judgement has come to be known as a judgement based on the doctrine of Adverse Possession.
Any owner of a property can, of their free will, decide to use or not to use their property. If the owner allows a caretaker to take possession of the property or if someone trespasses on the property and the owner does not take any timely action to evict the trespasser or claim his property from the caretaker within Twelve years from the date of such possession, then the concept of ‘Adverse Possession’ legalises the occupation (of the trespasser or caretaker as the case may be) over the property. Ownership rights can be acquired by the doctrine of adverse possession as enunciated by the Honourable Supreme Court in its recent judgement, and this has now been recognised in Article 65 of the Limitation Act, based on this judgement.
The Supreme Court has taken the view that anyone who has continuous, uninterrupted possession of the property for over Twelve years can acquire ownership rights of such property. This person in possession can take the plea of adverse against the real owner. It can be used both as a shield as well as a sword. He can defend his right or file a suit for possession if he has been dispossessed or for declaration of his title after he has acquired the right of ownership by adverse possession.
NRIs are more prone to losing their properties in India by adverse possession as they are unable to visit India frequently to look after and maintain their real estate assets. Thus, in most cases, they allow trusted relatives or friends to look after their properties as caretakers. These arrangements are based on implicit trust and not backed by any legally binding paperwork. Such arrangements go on for many years and decades in most cases. With the latest judgement and the Doctrine of Adverse Possession as interpreted by the Supreme Court, NRIs are now badly exposed to the machinations of greedy relatives or friends who can benefit by way of the doctrine of Adverse Possession claim ownership rights over such properties.
Given this recent judgment and the huge impact it can have on NRIs, We at NRI Legal Services have recently created a completely sperate service dedicated to matters related to Adverse Possession. As part of this service, we provide a complete advisory to our clients on the steps needed to be taken to ensure that the doctrine of Adverse Possession does not become applicable to them. In cases where the doctrine of Adverse Possession has become applicable, but the matter has not gone into court, we provide remedial services to ensure that our clients can rightfully claim their ownership rights and possession of the property in question. Lastly, we also provide a comprehensive litigation service in case matters that have already become Sub-Judice, and the person in possession of the property has already claimed ownership rights under the doctrine of Adverse Possession.