When Caretakers Try to become Property Owners

When caretakers try to become property owners

 In India the culture of leaving behind property as the responsibility of caretakers is an ongoing culture, especially in the case of NRI’s due to their living outside of the country for long durations. However, property possession is nine tenths of the law and that is something that provides for great merit in rightful claim over property. The reliance of individuals over their caretakers/servants/agents for the benefit and upkeep of their properties is increasing as the days are going by.

The Supreme Court in 2012 gave a decision for matters where the servants/caretakers/tenants etc. have tried to usurp the property of individuals and have tried misusing the justice system. There have been instances where these caretakers and tenants etc. in the absence of the real owners of the property have tried to claim rights in the property and have also refused to vacate and give up control over the property (on ground of 12 years of uninterrupted possession/adverse possession).

Although these claims are unjustified, but they have been known to delay the process of providing justice. In cases of Maria Sequeria v Erasmo Sequiria as well as Ramrameshwari Devi v Nirmala Devi it was held that a caretaker/servant/agents possession is not in his own capacity but is in the capacity of the rightful owner of the property.

The real property owner has a right to file for an eviction for the same.

In a case, the Supreme Court even held that since such frivolous matters cause a lot of costs to the individual who is the rightful owner, that individual has the right to demand restitution but since in the pertinent case, the appellant was a watchman who wouldn’t have been able to bear those costs, the Supreme Court dismissed the case with a fine of Rs. 25,000.

The Supreme Court has upheld principles like – the title of a property does not get acquired by an individual just because that individual was allowed to stay cost free, caretakers servants etc. do not acquire possession of property regardless of how long the stay, court protection can only extend to a person who has a valid rent/lease/license agreement.

The Supreme Court should be commended for this strong and ground breaking decision since this judgment upholds the rights of the actual property owners and safeguards them from the land grabbers.

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