New Delhi: One cannot acquire title to a property only because he or she had been allowed to stay in the premises gratuitously for long, the Supreme Court has ruled, asking courts to deal firmly with those embroiling innocent owners in prolonged real estate litigations.
A three-judge bench of justices Dalveer Bhandari, H L
Dattu and Deepak Verma also laid fresh guidelines that
caretakers, watchman or servants do not acquire any title to a
property merely because of its possession by them for several
"No one acquires title to the property if he or she was
allowed to stay in the premises gratuitously. Even by long
possession of years or decades such person would not acquire
any right or interest in the said property," the court said.
"False claims and defences are really serious problems with real estate litigation, predominantly because of ever escalating prices of the real estate.
"Litigation pertaining to valuable real estate properties
is dragged on by unscrupulous litigants in the hope that the
other party will tire out and ultimately would settle with
them by paying a huge amount.
"This happens because of the enormous delay in
adjudication of cases in our courts. If pragmatic approach is
adopted, then this problem can be minimised to a large
extent," said Justice Bhandari writing the judgement for the
The apex court passed the ruling while upholding an appeal
of Maria Margarida Sequeria Fernandes who was embroiled in a
two-decade-long legal battle with her brother and former
Member of Parliament Erasmo Jack de Sequeria, whom she had
appointed as a caretaker of her property in Goa.
"Caretaker, watchman or servant can never acquire interest
in the property irrespective of his long possession. The
caretaker or servant has to give (up) possession (of the
property) forthwith on demand," the apex court said.