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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

M.P. Accommodation Control Act, 1961 (for brevity “the Act”) to file the suit for eviction.= In a suit for eviction and mesne profits , on failure to prove relationship of land lord and tenant , no eviction should be granted basing on title, plaintiff ought have to file a suit for declaration of title and possession, and the period indulged in this proceedings arrest the period of adverse possession = Tribhuvanshankar … Appellant Versus Amrutlal …Respondent = published in http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=40966

  M.P.  Accommodation  Control Act, 1961 (for brevity “the Act”) to file the  suit  for  eviction.= In a suit for eviction and mesne profits  , on failure to prove relationship of land lord and tenant , no eviction should be granted basing on title, plaintiff ought have to file a suit  for declaration of title and possession, and the period indulged in this proceedings arrest the period of adverse possession  =

  “(1)  Whether a decree could be passed in  favour  of  plaintiff
           though such plaintiff fails to  establish  the  relationship  of
           landlord and tenant?

           (2)   Whether the 1st Appellate Court committed the error of law
           in pronouncing the error of law in pronouncing the judgment  and
           decree on question of title? And

           (3)   Whether the 1st  Appellate  Court  has  erred  in  law  in
           holding that the possession of the defendant is not  proved  and
           that the  defendant  has  not  acquired  the  title  by  adverse
           possession?” =
 In course of deliberation, the two-Judge  Bench  distinguished  the
         authorities in Firm Sriniwas Ram Kumar  v.  Mahabir  Prasad[8]  and
         Bhagwati Prasad (supra) by observing thus: -
            “15. These are cases where the courts  which  tried  the  suits
            were  ordinary  civil  courts  having  jurisdiction  to   grant
            alternative relief and pass decree under Order VII  Rule  7.  A
            Court of Rent Controller having  limited  jurisdiction  to  try
            suits on grounds specified in the special  Act  obviously  does
            not have jurisdiction of the ordinary civil court and therefore
            cannot pass a decree for eviction of the defendant on a  ground
            other than the one specified  in  the  Act.  If,  however,  the
            alternative relief is permissible within the ambit of the  Act,
            the position would be different.”

  
24.  Presently  we  shall  proceed  to  address  ourselves,  which   is
        necessary, as to what directions we  should  issue  and  with  what
        observations/clarifications.  
In Rajendra Tiwary (supra), the  two-
        Judge Bench had observed that the decision rendered by  this  Court
        did not preclude the plaintiff for filing the suit for  enquiry  of
        title and for recovery of possession of the suit  premises  against
        the defendant.  
In the said case a suit for specific performance of
        contract filed against the defendant was pending.   
The  Court  had
        directed that the suit to be filed by the  plaintiff  for  which  a
        three months’ time was granted should be heard  together  with  the
        suit already instituted by the defendant.  
In the present case, the
        suit was instituted on the basis of purchase.  
A plea was  advanced
        that the defendant had already perfected his title by  prescription
        as he was in possession for 18 to 19 years.  
The  trial  court  had
        accepted the plea and the appellate court  had  reversed  it.   
The
        High Court had allowed the second  appeal  holding  that  when  the
        relationship of landlord and tenant was not established,  a  decree
        for eviction could not be passed.  
We have already opined that  the
        High Court could not have affirmed the judgment and  decree  passed
        by the trial court as it had already decided the issue  of  adverse
        possession in favour  of  the  defendant,  though  it  had  neither
        jurisdiction to enquire into the title nor that  of  perfection  of
        title by way of adverse possession  as  raised  by  the  defendant.
       
Under these  circumstances  we  are  disposed  to  think  that  the
        plaintiff is entitled under law to file a fresh suit for title  and
        recovery of possession and such other reliefs as the law permits.

       The relief sought in the  plaint  was  for  delivery  of
        possession.  It was not a forum that lacked  inherent  jurisdiction
        to pass a  decree  for  delivery  of  possession.   It  showed  the
        intention of the plaintiff to act and to take back the  possession.
        Under these circumstances, after the institution of the  suit,  the
        time for acquiring title by adverse possession has been arrested or
        remained in a state  of  suspension  till  the  entire  proceedings
        arising out of suit are terminated.  Be it ingeminated that  if  by
        the date of present suit the defendant had already perfected  title
        by adverse possession that would stand on a different footing.

    35. In view  of  the  aforesaid  analysis,  we  permit  the  appellant-
        plaintiff to institute a suit as stated in paragraph  24  within  a
        period of two months from today.

    36. Resultantly, the appeal is allowed  leaving  the  parties  to  bear
        their respective costs.

     IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA


                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                       CIVIL APPEAL NO. 10316  OF 2013
                (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 15927 of 2008)


      Tribhuvanshankar                             … Appellant


                                   Versus


      Amrutlal                                           …Respondent


                               J U D G M E N T


      Dipak Misra, J.




            Leave granted.
     2. This appeal, by special leave, is from the judgment  and  order  of
        the High Court of Madhya Pradesh, Bench at Indore, in Second Appeal
        No. 33 of 1995 passed on 8.2.2008.

     3. The appellant-plaintiff instituted Civil Suit No.  259A/86  in  the
        Court of Civil Judge Class-II, Mhow, District Indore, for  eviction
        of the respondent-defendant from the suit-premises  and  for  mesne
        profits.
The case of  the  appellant-plaintiff  was  that  he  had
        purchased  the  suit  property  vide  registered  sale  deed  dated
        1.4.1976 on payment of  sale  consideration  of  Rs.4500/-  to  the
        vendor, one Kishanlal.  The respondent-defendant was in  possession
        of the said suit property as  a  tenant  under  the  earlier  owner
        Kishorilal on payment of rent of Rs.15/- per month.  It was averred
        in the plaint that it was an oral tenancy and after  acquiring  the
        title the appellant informed the respondent about the sale  by  the
        earlier owner.  Despite assurance given by the  respondent  to  pay
        the rent to him, it was not honoured which compelled the  appellant
        to send a notice on 14.12.1977 and, eventually, he  terminated  the
        tenancy with effect from 31.1.1978.  
The  respondent,  as  pleaded,
        had replied to the notice stating, inter alia, that  the  appellant
        was neither the landlord nor the owner of  the  property.   On  the
        contrary, it was stated in the reply that the  respondent  was  the
        owner of the premises.

      4. The grounds that were urged while seeking eviction  were:
(i)  the
         defendant was in arrears  of  rent  since  1.4.1976  and  same  was
         demanded vide  notice  dated  14.12.1977,  which  was  received  on
         3.1.1978 and despite receiving the notice, the defendant  defaulted
         by not paying the rent  within  two  months;
(ii)  that  the  said
         accommodation  was  bona  fide  required  by  the   plaintiff   for
         construction of his house and the accommodation is  an  open  land;
       
 (iii)  the  said  accommodation  was  bona  fide  required  by  the
         plaintiff for general merchant shop  i.e.  non-residential  purpose
         and for the said purpose the plaintiff did not have any alternative
         accommodation in his possession in Mhow City.

     5. In the written statement, the defendant disputed the  right,  title
        and interest of the  plaintiff,  and  denied  the  relationship  of
        landlord and tenant.
That apart, a further stand  was  taken  that
        the appellant had no right under  the  M.P.  Accommodation  Control Act, 1961 (for brevity “the Act”) to file the  suit  for  eviction.
        
It was set forth by the respondent-defendant that he  was  never  a
        tenant under Kishorilal and, in fact, the accommodation  was  in  a
        dilapidated condition and a ‘banjar’ land and the respondent was in
        possession for 18 to 19 years  and  it  was  to  the  knowledge  of
        Kishorilal and his elder brother.
For the purpose of  business  he
        had constructed a Gumti, got the gate fixed and when  the  business
        relating to sale of furniture commenced there was no objection from
        Kishorilal or his brother or any family member.
 The possession, as
        put forth by the respondent, was uninterrupted, peaceful and to the
        knowledge of Kishorilal who was the actual owner.  It was also  set
        forth that when Kishorilal desired to sell the premises, he was put
        to notice about the ownership of the  defendant  but  he  sold  the
        property  without  obtaining  sale  consideration  with  the   sole
        intention to obtain possession by  colluding  with  the  appellant-
        plaintiff.
Alternatively, it was  pleaded  that  the  premises  is
        situate in the Cantonment area and the  Cantonment  Board  has  the
        control over the land and neither Kishorilal nor the appellant  had
        any title to the same.

     6. The learned trial Judge framed as many as 26 issues.  The  relevant
        issues are,
whether the suit accommodation was taken on rent by the
        defendant for running his wood business in the year 1973  from  the
        earlier landlord Kishorilal; 
whether defendant  is  in  continuous,
        unobstructed and peaceful  possession  since  18  years  which  was
        within the knowledge of Kishorilal, his  elder  brother  and  their
        family members; whether defendant had  become  owner  of  the  suit
        accommodation by way of adverse possession; and 
 whether  the  sale
        deed had been executed without any consideration for causing damage
        to the title of defendant.

     7. The learned trial Judge,  on  the  basis  of  evidence  brought  on
        record, came to hold that 
the sale deed executed by  Kishorilal  in
        favour of the appellant was without any  sale  consideration;  
that
        the relationship of landlord and tenant between the parties had not
        been established; and 
that the respondent had become the  owner  of
        the suit accommodation on the basis of adverse  possession.  
 Being
        of this view, the trial court dismissed the suit.

     8. Being dissatisfied with  the  aforesaid  judgment  and  decree  the
        plaintiff preferred Civil Regular Appeal No.  5  of  1994  and  the
        lower appellate court, reappreciating the evidence  on  record  and
        considering the submissions raised at the bar,
came  to  hold  that
        the  appellant-  plaintiff  had  not  been  able   to   prove   the
        relationship of landlord and tenant;
that the conclusion arrived at
        by the learned trial Judge that the sale-deed dated 1.4.1976 due to
        absence of sale consideration was invalid,  was  neither  justified
        nor  correct;  and  
that  there  being  no  clinching  evidence  to
        establish that the defendant had perfected  his  title  by  adverse
        possession the finding recorded by the learned trial Judge on  that
        score was indefensible.  
After so holding,  the  learned  appellate
        Judge proceeded to hold that as the plaintiff had  established  his
        title and the defendant had miserably failed  to  substantiate  his
        assertion as regards the claim of perfection of  title  by  way  of
        adverse possession, the plaintiff on the basis of his ownership was
        entitled to a  decree  for  possession.   
To  arrive  at  the  said
        conclusion he placed reliance  on
 Punia  Pillai  vs.  Panai  Minor
        through Pandiya Thevan[1], Bhagwati Prasad  v.  Chandramaul[2]  and
        Amulya Ratan Mukherjee and ors. V. Kali Pada Tah and ors.[3]

     9. Facing failure before the appellate court the  defendant  preferred
        Second Appeal No. 33 of 1995 before the High Court.
The appeal was
        admitted on the following substantial questions of law: -

           “(1)  Whether a decree could be passed in  favour  of  plaintiff
           though such plaintiff fails to  establish  the  relationship  of
           landlord and tenant?

           (2)   Whether the 1st Appellate Court committed the error of law
           in pronouncing the error of law in pronouncing the judgment  and
           decree on question of title? And

           (3)   Whether the 1st  Appellate  Court  has  erred  in  law  in
           holding that the possession of the defendant is not  proved  and
           that the  defendant  has  not  acquired  the  title  by  adverse
           possession?”

    10. The learned single Judge by judgment  dated  8.2.2008  adverted  to
 Sections 12(1)(a) and 12(1)(e) of the Act and  came  to  hold  that
once the plaintiff had failed  to  establish  the  relationship  of
landlord and tenant which is  the  sine  qua  non  in  a  suit  for
eviction, the plaintiff could not have fallen back on his title  to
seek eviction of the tenant.
Be it noted, the learned single Judge
        placed  reliance  upon  Rajendra  Tiwary  v.  Basudeo  Prasad   and
        another[4] wherein the decision in Bhagwati Prasad (supra) had been
        distinguished.
The learned single Judge dislodged the judgment and
        decree passed by the lower appellate court and affirmed that of the
        learned trial Judge.

    11. We have heard Mr. A.K. Chitale, learned  senior  counsel  appearing
        for the appellant and Mr. Puneet Jain,  learned  counsel  appearing
        for the respondent.

    12. Questioning the legal acceptableness of the decision  of  the  High
        Court  the  learned  senior  counsel  has  raised   the   following
        contentions: -

     a) The learned single Judge has erroneously opined that a suit  cannot
        be decreed by civil court for possession on the  basis  of  general
        title even if the landlord-tenant relationship is  not  proved.   A
        manifest  error  has  been  committed  by  the  learned  Judge  not
        following the law laid down in Bhagwati  Prasad  (supra)  which  is
        applicable on all fours to the case at hand, solely on  the  ground
        that the said decision has been distinguished in Rajendra  Tiwary’s
        case.

     b) Though three substantial questions of  law  were  framed,  yet  the
        learned  single  Judge  without  considering  all  the   questionss
        affirmed the judgment of the trial court wherein  it  had  come  to
        hold that the  defendant  had  established  his  title  by  adverse
        possession  despite  the  same  had  already   been   annulled   on
        reappreciation of evidence by the lower appellate court.

     c) Assuming a conclusion is arrived at that there should have  been  a
        prayer for recovery of possession by  paying  the  requisite  court
        fee, the appellant, who has  been  fighting  the  litigation  since
        decades should be allowed to amend the plaint  and  on  payment  of
        requisite court fee apposite relief should be granted.

    13. Countering the  aforesaid  submissions  Mr.  Puneet  Jain,  learned
        counsel appearing for the respondent, has proponed thus: -

        i) The analysis made by the High Court that when  the  relationship
           between the landlord and tenant is not  proven  in  a  suit  for
           eviction, possession cannot be delivered solely on  the  bedrock
           of right, title and interest cannot be found fault with.   There
           is a difference between a suit for eviction based  on  landlord-
           tenant relationship and suit for possession based on title,  and
           once the relationship of landlord and tenant is not proven there
           cannot be a decree for eviction.

       ii) The High Court has correctly distinguished the decision rendered
           in Bhagwati Prasad (supra) in Rajendra Tiwary (supra) as the law
           laid down in Bhagwati Prasad is not applicable  to  the  present
           case and hence, the submission raised on behalf of the appellant
           that once the right, title and interest is established,  on  the
           basis  of  general  title,  possession  can  be   recovered   is
           unacceptable.

      iii) The alternative submission that liberty  should  be  granted  to
           amend the plaint for inclusion of the  relief  for  recovery  of
           possession  would  convert  the  suit  from  one  for   eviction
           simpliciter  to  another  for  right,  title  and  interest  and
           recovery of possession which is impermissible. That apart,  when
           the  suit  was  dismissed  and  the  controversy  travelled   to
           appellate court the plaintiff was aware of the  whole  situation
           but chose not to seek the alternative relief that was  available
           which is presently barred by limitation.  It is well settled  in
           law that the Court should decline to allow the prayer  to  amend
           the plaint if a fresh suit based on the amended claim  would  be
           barred by limitation on the date of application.

    14. At the very outset, we may straight away proceed to state that  the
        finding returned by the courts below that has been concurred by the
        High Court to the effect that there is no relationship of  landlord
        and tenant between the parties is  absolutely  impeccable  and,  in
        fact, the legality and propriety of the said finding has  not  been
        assailed by the learned senior counsel for the appellant.   As  far
        as right, title and interest is concerned, the learned trial  Judge
        had not believed the sale  deed  executed  by  the  vendor  of  the
        appellant-plaintiff in his favour for  lack  of  consideration  and
        also returned an affirmative finding  that  the  defendant  was  in
        possession for long and hence, had acquired title by  prescription.
        The learned appellate  Judge  on  reappreciation  of  the  evidence
        brought on record had unsettled the findings  with  regard  to  the
        title of the plaintiff as well as the acquisition of title  by  the
        defendant by way of adverse possession.  He had granted  relief  to
        the plaintiff on the ground that in a suit for  eviction  when  the
        title was proven and assertion of adverse possession was  negatived
        by  the  court,  there  could  be  a  direction  for  delivery   of
        possession.  As has been stated earlier the High Court has reversed
        the same by distinguishing the law laid  down  in  Bhagwati  Prasad
        (supra) and restored the verdict of the learned trial Judge.

    15. Keeping these broad facts in view, it is  necessary  to  scrutinize
        whether the decision in Bhagwati Prasad which has been  assiduously
        commended to us by Mr. Chitale  is  applicable  to  the  case.
 In
        Bhagwati Prasad (supra) the defendant was the appellant before this
        Court.  The case of the plaintiff was that  the  defendant  was  in
        possession of the house  as  the  tenant  of  the  plaintiff.   The
        defendant admitted  that  the  land  over  which  the  house  stood
        belonged to the plaintiff. He, however, pleaded that the house  had
        been constructed by the defendant at his own cost and that  too  at
        the request of the plaintiff because the plaintiff had no funds  to
        construct the building on his own. Having constructed the house  at
        his own cost, the defendant entered into possession of the house on
        condition that the defendant would  continue  to  occupy  the  same
        until the amount spent by him on the construction was repaid to him
        by the plaintiff. In this  backdrop,  the  defendant  resisted  the
        claim made by the plaintiff for ejectment as well as for rent.  The
        learned trial Judge held that the suit was competent  and  came  to
        the conclusion that the plaintiff was  entitled  to  a  decree  for
        ejectment as well as for rent.  The  High  Court  agreed  with  the
        trial court in  disbelieving  the  defendant’s  version  about  the
        construction of the house and about the  terms  and  conditions  on
        which he had been let into possession.  The High Court opined  that
        the defendant must be deemed to have  been  in  possession  of  the
        house as a licensee  and  accordingly  opined  that  a  decree  for
        ejectment should  be  passed.   Dealing  with  various  contentions
        raised before this Court it was ruled that the defendant could  not
        have taken any other plea barring that of a licensee in view of the
        pleadings already put forth and the evidence already  adduced.   In
        that context, this Court opined that the High Court  had  correctly
        relied upon the earlier Full  Bench  decision  in  Abdul  Ghani  v.
        Musammat  Babni[5]  and  Balmukund  v.  Dalu[6].   An  opinion  was
        expressed by this Court that once the finding was returned that the
        defendant was in possession as a licensee, there was no  difficulty
        in affirming the decree for ejectment, even  though  the  plaintiff
        had originally claimed ejectment on the ground of tenancy  and  not
        specifically on the ground of licence.   In  that  context  it  was
        observed thus: -

           “15. ... In the present case, having regard to all the facts, we
           are unable to hold that the High Court erred in  confirming  the
           decree for ejectment passes by the trial  Court  on  the  ground
           that the defendant was in possession of the suit premises  as  a
           licensee. In this case, the High Court was  obviously  impressed
           by the thought that once  the  defendant  was  shown  to  be  in
           possession of the suit premises as a licensee, it would be built
           to require the  plaintiff  to  file  another  suit  against  the
           defendant for ejectment on that basis. We are  not  prepared  to
           hold that in adopting this approach in the circumstances of this
           case, the High Court can be said to have gone wrong in law.”

   16. Before we proceed to state the ratio in Rajendra Tiwary’s  case,  we
       think it seemly to advert  to  the  principle  stated  in  Biswanath
       Agarwalla v. Sabitri  Bera  and  others[7]  as  the  same  has  been
       strongly  relied  upon  by  the  learned  senior  counsel  for   the
       appellant.
In the said case, the question that was posed is
whether
       a civil court can pass a decree on the ground that the defendant  is
       a trespasser in a simple suit for eviction.
In the  said  case  the
       learned single Judge of the Calcutta  High  Court,  considering  the
       issues framed and the evidence laid,  had  held  that  although  the
       plaintiffs had failed to prove  the  relationship  of  landlord  and
       tenant by and between them and the defendant or that  the  defendant
       had been let into the tenanted premises on leave and licence  basis,
       the respondent-plaintiffs were entitled to a decree  for  possession
       on the basis of their general title.
This Court took  note  of  the
       relief prayed, namely, a decree for eviction of the  defendant  from
       the schedule premises and for grant of  mesne  profit  in  case  the
       eviction is allowed at certain rates.  
The Court  proceeded  on  the
       base that the plaintiff had proved his right,  title  and  interest.
       The Court observed that the landlord in a given case,  although  may
       not be able to prove the relationship of landlord and tenant, yet in
       the event he proves the general title, may obtain a  decree  on  the
       basis thereunder.  
 But regard being had to the nature of the  case
       the Court observed that  the  defendant  was  entitled  to  raise  a
       contention that  he  had  acquired  indefeasible  title  by  adverse
       possession.
The Court referred to the decision in  Bhagwati  Prasad
       (supra)  and, eventually, came to hold as follows: -

           “27.  The question as to whether the defendant acquired title by
           adverse possession was a plausible plea.  He,  in  fact,  raised
           the same before the  appellate  court.   Submission  before  the
           first appellate court by the  defendant  that  he  had  acquired
           title by adverse possession was merely argumentative  in  nature
           as neither there was a pleading nor there  was  an  issue.   The
           learned trial  court  had  no  occasion  to  go  into  the  said
           question.  We, therefore, are of the opinion that in a  case  of
           this nature an issue was required to be framed.”



            Thereafter, the two-Judge Bench issued the following directions:
      -

           “29.  However, we are of the opinion that keeping  in  view  the
           peculiar facts  and  circumstances  of  this  case  and  as  the
           plaintiffs have filed the suit as far back as in the year  1990,
           the interest of justice should be subserved if we in exercise of
           our jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution of  India
           issue the following  directions  with  a  view  to  do  complete
           justice to the parties.

                    i) The plaintiffs may file an application for  grant  of
                       leave to amend their plaint so as to enable  them  to
                       pray for a decree for eviction of  the  defendant  on
                       the ground that he is a trespasser.

                   ii) For the aforementioned  purpose,  he  shall  pay  the
                       requisite court fee in terms of the provisions of the
                       Court Fees Act, 1870.

                  iii) Such an application for grant of leave to  amend  the
                       plaint as also the requisite  amount  of  court  fees
                       should be tendered within four weeks from date.

                   iv) The appellant-defendant would, in such an  event,  be
                       entitled to file his additional written statement.

                    v) The learned trial Judge shall  frame  an  appropriate
                       issue and the parties would be entitled to adduce any
                       other or further evidence on such issue.

                   vi) All the evidences brought on record  by  the  parties
                       shall, however, be considered by the  court  for  the
                       purposes of disposal of the suit.

                  vii) The learned trial Judge is directed to dispose of the
                       suit as  expeditiously  as  possible  and  preferably
                       within three months from the date of  filing  of  the
                       application  by  the  plaintiffs  in  terms  of   the
                       aforementioned Direction (i).”


    17. At  this  stage  it  is  necessary  to  dwell  upon  the  facet  of
        applicability of the said authorities to the  lis  of  the  present
        nature.
As per the exposition of facts, the analysis made and  the
        principles laid down in both the cases, we notice  that  the  civil
        action was initiated under the provisions of Transfer  of  Property
        Act, 1882.
In Bhagwati Prasad’s  case  the  Court  opined  that  a
        decree for ejectment could  be  passed  on  general  title  as  the
        defendant was a licensee.
In Biswanath Agarwalla’s  case the Court
        took note of the concept of general title and the plausible plea of
        adverse possession and granted liberty to the  plaintiff  to  amend
        the plaint seeking a decree for recovery of possession and pay  the
        required court fee under the Court-fees  Act,  1870.   That  apart,
        certain other directions were issued.  We may repeat at the cost of
        repetition that the suits were instituted  under  the  Transfer  of
        Property Act.
The effect of the same and its impact on  difference
        of jurisdiction on a civil court  in  exercising  power  under  the
        Transfer of Property Act and under special enactments  relating  to
        eviction and other proceedings instituted between the landlord  and
        tenant, we shall advert to the said aspects  slightly  at  a  later
        stage.

     18. Presently, we shall  analyse  the  principles  stated  in  Rajendra
         Tiwary (supra).  
In the  said  case  the  respondent-plaintiff  had
         filed a suit for eviction under the Bihar  Buildings  (Lease,  Rent
         and Eviction) Control Act, 1982 on  many  a  ground.   The  learned
         trial Judge, appreciating the evidence  on  record,  dismissed  the
         suit for  eviction  holding  that  there  was  no  relationship  of
         landlord and  tenant  between  the  plaintiff  and  the  defendant.
         
However, he had returned a finding that the plaintiff had title  to
         the suit premises.  
The appellate court affirmed  the  judgment  of
         the learned trial Judge and dismissed the appeal. 
 In second appeal
         the High Court reversed the  decisions  of  the  courts  below  and
         allowed the appeal taking the view that a decree for eviction could
         be passed against the defendant on the basis of the  title  of  the
         plaintiff  and,  accordingly,  remanded  the  case  to  the   first
         appellate court on the ground that it had not recorded any  finding
         on the question of the title of  the  parties.   It  was  contended
         before this Court that as the trial court  was  exercising  limited
         jurisdiction under the Rent Act, the question of title to the  suit
         premises could not be decided inasmuch as that had to be done by  a
         civil court in its ordinary jurisdiction and, therefore,  the  High
         Court erred in law in remanding the case  to  the  first  appellate
         court for deciding the question  of  title  of  the  plaintiff  and
         passing an equitable decree for eviction  of  the  defendant.   The
         Court  posed  a  question  whether  on  the  facts   and   in   the
         circumstances of the case the High Court was right in  law  holding
         that an equitable decree for eviction of  the  defendant  could  be
         passed under Order VII Rule 7  of  the  Civil  Procedure  Code  and
         remanding the case to the first appellate court for  recording  its
         finding on the question  of  title  of  the  parties  to  the  suit
         premises and for passing an equitable decree for  eviction  against
         the defendant if the plaintiffs were found to have  title  thereto.
         Answering the question the learned Judges proceeded to state  thus:
         -

           “It  is  evident  that  while  dealing  with  the  suit  of  the
           plaintiffs for eviction of the defendant from the suit  premises
           under clauses (c) and (d) of sub-section (1) of  Section  11  of
           the  Act,  courts  including  the  High  Court  were  exercising
           jurisdiction under the Act which is a  special  enactment.   The
           sine qua non for granting the relief in the suit, under the Act,
           is  that  between  the  plaintiffs   and   the   defendant   the
           relationship of “landlord and tenant” should exist.   The  scope
           of the enquiry before the courts was limited to the question: as
           to whether the grounds for eviction of the defendant  have  been
           made out under the Act.  The question of title of the parties to
           the suit premises is not relevant having regard to the width  of
           the definition of the terms “landlord” and “tenant”  in  clauses
           (f) and (h), respectively, of Section 2 of the Act.”

     19. In course of deliberation, the two-Judge  Bench  distinguished  the
         authorities in Firm Sriniwas Ram Kumar  v.  Mahabir  Prasad[8]  and
         Bhagwati Prasad (supra) by observing thus: -
            “15. These are cases where the courts  which  tried  the  suits
            were  ordinary  civil  courts  having  jurisdiction  to   grant
            alternative relief and pass decree under Order VII  Rule  7.  
A
            Court of Rent Controller having  limited  jurisdiction  to  try
            suits on grounds specified in the special  Act  obviously  does
            not have jurisdiction of the ordinary civil court and 
therefore
            cannot pass a decree for eviction of the defendant on a  ground
            other than the one specified  in  the  Act.  
If,  however,  the
            alternative relief is permissible within the ambit of the  Act,
            the position would be different.”


                                                         [Emphasis supplied]



     20. Thereafter, the learned Judges proceeded to express thus:
            “16. In this case the reason for denial of the  relief  to  the
            plaintiffs by the trial court and the appellate court  is  that
            the very foundation of the suit, namely, the plaintiffs are the
            landlords  and  the  defendant  is   the   tenant,   has   been
            concurrently found to be not established. In any event  inquiry
            into title of the plaintiffs is beyond the scope of  the  court
            exercising jurisdiction under the Act. That being the  position
            the impugned order of the High Court remanding the case to  the
            first appellate court for recording finding on the question  of
            title  of  the  parties,  is  unwarranted  and   unsustainable.
            Further, as pointed out above, in such a case the provisions of
            Order VII Rule 7 are not attracted.”

                                                       [Underlining is ours]

    21. At this juncture, we may fruitfully refer to the principles  stated
        in Dr. Ranbir Singh v. Asharfi Lal[9].
 In the said case the  Court
        was  dealing  with  the  case  instituted  by  the  landlord  under
        Rajasthan Premises (Control of Rent and  Eviction)  Act,  1950  for
        eviction of the tenant who had disputed  the  title  and  the  High
        Court had decided the judgment and decree of the courts  below  and
        dismissed the  suit  of  the  plaintiff  seeking  eviction.   While
        adverting to the issue of title the Court  ruled  that  in  a  case
        where a plaintiff institutes a suit  for  eviction  of  his  tenant
        based on the relationship of the landlord and tenant, the scope  of
        the suit is very much limited in which a question of  title  cannot
        be gone into because the suit of the plaintiff would  be  dismissed
        even if he succeeds in proving his title but fails to establish the
        privity of contract of tenancy. In a suit  for  eviction  based  on
        such  relationship  the  Court  has  only  to  decide  whether  the
        defendant is the  tenant  of  the  plaintiff  or  not,  though  the
        question of title if disputed, may incidentally be  gone  into,  in
        connection with the  primary  question  for  determining  the  main
        question about the relationship between the litigating parties.  In
        the said case the learned Judges referred to the authority  in  LIC
        v. India Automobiles & Co.[10] wherein the Court had observed  that
        in a suit for eviction between the landlord and tenant,  the  Court
        will take only a prima facie decision on the collateral issue as to
        whether the applicant was landlord. If the Court finds existence of
        relationship of landlord and tenant between  the  parties  it  will
        have to pass a decree  in  accordance  with  law.  It  was  further
        observed therein that all that the Court has to do  is  to  satisfy
        itself that the person seeking eviction  is  a  landlord,  who  has
        prima facie right to receive the rent of the property in  question.
        In order to decide whether denial of landlord’s title by the tenant
        is bona fide the Court may have to go into tenant’s  contention  on
        the issue but the Court is not to  decide  the  question  of  title
        finally as the Court has to see  whether  the  tenant’s  denial  of
        title of the landlord is bona fide  in  the  circumstances  of  the
        case.

    22. On a seemly analysis of  the  principle  stated  in  the  aforesaid
        authorities, it is quite  vivid  that  there  is  a  difference  in
        exercise of jurisdiction when the civil  court  deals  with  a  lis
        relating to eviction brought before  it  under  the  provisions  of
        Transfer of Property Act and under any special enactment pertaining
        to eviction on specified grounds.  Needless to say, this court  has
        cautiously added that if alternative relief is  permissible  within
        the ambit of the Act, the position would be different.  That apart,
        the Court can decide the issue of title if a  tenant  disputes  the
        same and the only purpose is to see whether the denial of title  of
        the landlord by the tenant is bona fide in the circumstances of the
        case.  We respectfully concur with the aforesaid view and  we  have
        no hesitation in holding that the  dictum  laid  down  in  Bhagwati
        Prasad   (supra)   and    Bishwanath    Agarwalla    (supra)    are
        distinguishable, for in the said cases the suits were  filed  under
        the Transfer of Property Act where the equitable relief under Order
        VII Rule 7 could be granted.

    23. At this juncture, we are obliged to state that it would depend upon
        the Scheme of the Act whether an alternative relief is  permissible
        under the Act.
In  Rajendra  Tiwari’s  case  the  learned  Judges,
        taking into consideration  the  width  of  the  definition  of  the
        “landlord” and “tenant” under the Bihar Buildings (Lease, Rent  and
        Eviction) Control  Act,  1982,  had  expressed  the  opinion.   The
        dictionary clause under  the  Act,  with  which  we  are  concerned
        herein,  uses  similar  expression.   Thus,   a   limited   enquiry
        pertaining to the status of  the  parties,  i.e.,  relationship  of
        landlord and tenant could have been undertaken.  Once a finding was
        recorded that there was no  relationship  of  landlord  and  tenant
        under the Scheme of the Act, there was no necessity to  enter  into
        an enquiry with regard to the title of the plaintiff based  on  the
        sale deed or the title of the defendant as  put  forth  by  way  of
        assertion of long possession.   Similarly,  the  learned  appellate
        Judge while upholding the finding of the learned trial  Judge  that
        there was no  relationship  of  landlord  and  tenant  between  the
        parties, there was no  warrant  to  reappreciate  the  evidence  to
        overturn any other conclusion.  The High Court is justified to  the
        extent that  no  equitable  relief  could  be  granted  in  a  suit
        instituted under the Act.  But, it has committed an  illegality  by
        affirming the judgment and decree passed by the learned trial Judge
        because by such affirmation the defendant becomes the owner of  the
        premises by acquisition of title by  prescription.   When  such  an
        enquiry could not have been entered upon and no finding could  have
        been recorded and, in  fact,  the  High  Court  has  correctly  not
        dwelled upon it, the impugned judgment to that extent is vulnerable
        and accordingly we set aside the said affirmation.

    24.  Presently  we  shall  proceed  to  address  ourselves,  which   is
        necessary, as to what directions we  should  issue  and  with  what
        observations/clarifications.  
In Rajendra Tiwary (supra), the  two-
        Judge Bench had observed that the decision rendered by  this  Court
        did not preclude the plaintiff for filing the suit for  enquiry  of
        title and for recovery of possession of the suit  premises  against
        the defendant.  
In the said case a suit for specific performance of
        contract filed against the defendant was pending.   
The  Court  had
        directed that the suit to be filed by the  plaintiff  for  which  a
        three months’ time was granted should be heard  together  with  the
        suit already instituted by the defendant.  
In the present case, the
        suit was instituted on the basis of purchase.  
A plea was  advanced
        that the defendant had already perfected his title by  prescription
        as he was in possession for 18 to 19 years.  
The  trial  court  had
        accepted the plea and the appellate court  had  reversed  it.   
The
        High Court had allowed the second  appeal  holding  that  when  the
        relationship of landlord and tenant was not established,  a  decree
        for eviction could not be passed.  
We have already opined that  the
        High Court could not have affirmed the judgment and  decree  passed
        by the trial court as it had already decided the issue  of  adverse
        possession in favour  of  the  defendant,  though  it  had  neither
        jurisdiction to enquire into the title nor that  of  perfection  of
        title by way of adverse possession  as  raised  by  the  defendant.
       
Under these  circumstances  we  are  disposed  to  think  that  the
        plaintiff is entitled under law to file a fresh suit for title  and
        recovery of possession and such other reliefs as the law permits.

     25. At this juncture, we think it apt to clarify the position,  for  if
         we leave at this when a fresh suit is filed the defendant would  be
         in a position to advance a plea that the right of the plaintiff had
         been extinguished as he had not filed  the  suit  for  recovery  of
         possession within the time allowed by law.  It  is  evincible  that
         the suit for eviction was instituted on 21.3.1978 and if  the  time
         is computed from that day  the  suit  for  which  we  have  granted
         liberty would definitely be barred by limitation.  Thus,  grant  of
         liberty by us would be  absolutely  futile.   Hence,  we  think  it
         imperative to state the legal position as to why  we  have  granted
         liberty to the plaintiff.  We  may  hasten  to  add  that  we  have
         affirmed the judgment of the High Court only to the extent that  as
         the relationship of landlord and tenant  was  not  established  the
         defendant was not liable for eviction under the Act.  The issue  of
         right, title and interest is definitely  open.   The  appellant  is
         required to establish the same in a fresh suit  as  required  under
         law and the defendant is entitled to resist  the  same  by  putting
         forth all his stand  and  stance  including  the  plea  of  adverse
         possession.  The fulcrum of the matter is whether  the  institution
         of the instant suit for eviction under  the  Act  would  arrest  of
         running of  time  regard  being  had  to  the  concept  of  adverse
         possession as well as the concept of limitation.  The conception of
         adverse possession fundamentally contemplates a hostile  possession
         by which there is a denial of title of the true owner.   By  virtue
         of remaining in possession the possessor takes an adverse stance to
         the title of the true owner.  In fact, he  disputes  the  same.   A
         mere possession or user or permissive possession does not  remotely
         come near the spectrum of adverse  possession.   Possession  to  be
         adverse has to be actual, open, notorious, exclusive and continuous
         for the requisite frame of time as provided  in  law  so  that  the
         possessor perfects his title by adverse possession.   It  has  been
         held in Secy. Of  State  for  India  In  Council  v.  Debendra  Lal
         Khan[11]  that  the  ordinary  classical  requirement  of   adverse
         possession is that it should be nec vi, nec clam, nec precario

    26. In S.M. Karim v. Mst. Bibi Sakina[12] ,  it  has  been  ruled  that
        adverse possession must be adequate in continuity, in publicity and
        extent and a plea is required at the least to show when  possession
        becomes adverse so that the starting point  of  limitation  against
        the party affected can be found.

    27. In Karnataka Board of Wakf v. Govt. of India[13] it has been opined
        that  adverse  possession  is  a  hostile  possession  by   clearly
        asserting hostile title in denial of the title of the  true  owner.
        It is a  well-settled  principle  that  a  party  claiming  adverse
        possession must prove that his possession is ‘nec vi, nec clam, nec
        precario’, that is, peaceful, open and continuous.  The  possession
        must be adequate in continuity, in publicity and in extent to  show
        that their possession is adverse to the true owner.  It must  start
        with a wrongful disposition of the rightful owner  and  be  actual,
        visible,  exclusive,  hostile  and  continued  over  the  statutory
        period.  Thereafter, the learned Judges observed thus: -

           “11. ... Plea of adverse possession is not a  pure  question  of
           law but a blended one of fact and law.  Therefore, a person  who
           claims adverse possession should show: (a) on what date he  came
           into possession, (b) what was the nature of his possession,  (c)
           whether the factum of possession was known to the  other  party,
           (d)  how  long  his  possession  has  continued,  and  (e)   his
           possession was open and undisturbed.  A person pleading  adverse
           possession has no equities in his favour.  Since he is trying to
           defeat the rights of the true owner, it is for  him  to  clearly
           plead and establish all facts necessary to establish his adverse
           possession.”

    28. It is to be borne in mind that adverse possession, as a right, does
        not come in aid solely on the base that the owner loses  his  right
        to reclaim the property because of his willful neglect but also  on
        account of the possessor’s constant positive intent  to  remain  in
        possession.  It has been  held  in  P.T.  Munichikkanna  Reddy  and
        others v. Revamma and others[14].

    29. Regard being had to the aforesaid concept of adverse possession, it
        is necessary to understand the basic policy underlying the statutes
        of limitation.  The Acts of Limitation fundamentally are principles
        relating to “repose” or of “peace”.  In Halsbury’s Laws of England,
        Fourth Edition, Volume 28, Para 605 it has been stated thus: -

           “605. Policy of the Limitation Acts. – The courts have expressed
           at least three differing reasons  supporting  the  existence  of
           statutes of limitation, namely (1) that long dormant claims have
           more of cruelty than justice in them, (2) that a defendant might
           have lost the evidence to disprove a stale claim, and  (3)  that
           persons with good causes of  actions  should  pursue  them  with
           reasonable diligence.”

    30. These principles have been accepted by this Court keeping  in  view
        the  statutory  provisions  of  the  Indian  Limitation  Act.   The
        fundamental policy behind limitation is that if a person  does  not
        pursue his remedy within the specified time frame, the right to sue
        gets extinguished.  In  the  present  case  the  pivotal  point  is
        whether a good cause because a litigant cannot deprive the  benefit
        acquired by another in equity by his own inaction  and  negligence,
        as assumed by the plaintiff, has been lost forever as  he  has  not
        been able to prove the relationship of landlord  and  tenant  in  a
        suit for eviction which includes delivery of possession.

    31. Keeping in view the aforesaid  principles  it  is  required  to  be
        scrutinized whether the time spent in adjudication of  the  present
        suit and the appeal arrests the running of time for the purpose  of
        adverse possession.  In this regard, we may profitably refer to the
        decision in Mst. Sultan Jehan Begum  and  Ors.  v.  Gul  Mohd.  and
        Ors.[15] wherein following principles have been culled out: -


           “(1) When a person entitled to possession does not bring a  suit
           against  the  person  in  adverse  possession  within  the  time
           prescribed by law his right to possession is extinguished.  From
           this it only follows that if the former brings  a  suit  against
           the latter within the prescribed period of limitation his  right
           will not be extinguished.


           (2) If a decree for possession is passed in  that  suit  in  his
           favour he will be entitled to  possession  irrespective  of  the
           time spent in the suit and the execution and other proceedings.


           (3) The very institution of  the  suit  arrests  the  period  of
           adverse possession of  the  defendant  and  when  a  decree  for
           possession is passed against the defendant the plaintiff's right
           to be put in possession relates back to the date of the suit.


           (4) Section 28 of the Limitation Act merely  declares  when  the
           right of the person out of possession is extinguished. It is not
           correct to say that that section confers title on the person who
           has been in adverse possession for a certain period. There is no
           law which provides for 'conferral of title' as such on a  person
           who has been in adverse possession for whatever length of time.


           (5) When it is said that the person in adverse  possession  'has
           perfected his title', it only means this. Since the  person  who
           had the  right  of  possession  but  allowed  his  right  to  be
           extinguished by his inaction, he cannot  obtain  the  possession
           from the person in adverse possession,  and,  as  its  necessary
           corollary the person  who  is  in  adverse  possession  will  be
           entitled to  hold  his  possession  against  the  other  not  in
           possession, on the well settled rule of law that  possession  of
           one person cannot be disturbed by any person except one who  has
           a better title.”

    32. In Sultan Khan s/o Jugge  Khan  v.  State  of  Madhya  Pradesh  and
        another[16] 
 a  proceeding  was  initiated  for  eviction  of   the
        plaintiff under Section 248 of the M.P. Land  Revenue  Code,  1959.
        Facing eviction plaintiff filed  a  suit  for  declaration  of  his
        right, title and interest on the  bedrock  of  adverse  possession.
        His claim was that he had been in uninterrupted possession for more
        than 30 years.
Repelling the contention the learned Judge observed
        thus:

           “It must, therefore, be accepted that filing  of  the  suit  for
           recovery of possession, by itself, is sufficient to  arrest  the
           period of adverse possession and a decree for  possession  could
           be passed irrespective of the time taken in deciding  the  suit.
           If this principle is applied to the  proceedings  under  Section
           248 of the Code, it must be held that in case a person  has  not
           perfected his title by adverse possession before  start  of  the
           proceedings, he cannot perfect his title during the pendency  of
           the proceedings. Adverse possession of the person in  possession
           must be deemed to have been  arrested  by  initiation  of  these
           proceedings.”

    33. We have referred to the aforesaid pronouncements  since  they  have
        been approved by this Court in Babu Khan and others v.  Nazim  Khan
        (dead) by L.Rs. and  others[17]  wherein  after  referring  to  the
        aforesaid two decisions and the decision in Ragho  Prasad  v.  P.N.
        Agarwal[18] the two-Judge Bench ruled thus: -

           “The legal position that emerges out of the decisions  extracted
           above is that once a suit for recovery of possession against the
           defendant who is in adverse possession is filed, the  period  of
           limitation for perfecting title by adverse possession comes to a
           grinding halt. We are in respectable  agreement  with  the  said
           statement  of  law.  In  the  present  case,  as  soon  as   the
           predecessor-in-interest of the applicant  filed  an  application
           under Section 91 of the Act for restoration of possession of the
           land  against  the  defendant   in   adverse   possession,   the
           defendant's adverse possession ceased to continue thereafter  in
           view of the legal position that such adverse possession does not
           continue to run after filing of the suit, we are, therefore,  of
           the view that the suit brought by the plaintiff for recovery  of
           possession of the land was not barred by limitation.”

    34. Coming to the case at hand the appellant had  filed  the  suit  for
        eviction.  The relief sought in the  plaint  was  for  delivery  of
        possession.  It was not a forum that lacked  inherent  jurisdiction
        to pass a  decree  for  delivery  of  possession.   It  showed  the
        intention of the plaintiff to act and to take back the  possession.
        Under these circumstances, after the institution of the  suit,  the
        time for acquiring title by adverse possession has been arrested or
        remained in a state  of  suspension  till  the  entire  proceedings
        arising out of suit are terminated.  Be it ingeminated that  if  by
        the date of present suit the defendant had already perfected  title
        by adverse possession that would stand on a different footing.

    35. In view  of  the  aforesaid  analysis,  we  permit  the  appellant-
        plaintiff to institute a suit as stated in paragraph  24  within  a
        period of two months from today.

    36. Resultantly, the appeal is allowed  leaving  the  parties  to  bear
        their respective costs.



                                                             ……………………………….J.
                                                              [Anil R. Dave]






                                                             ……………………………….J.
      New Delhi;                                    [Dipak Misra]
      November 13, 2013.
-----------------------
[1]    AIR 1947 Madras 282
[2]    AIR 1966 SC 735
[3]    AIR 1975 Cal 200
[4]    AIR 2002 SC 136
[5]    25 All 256
[6]    25 All 498
[7]    (2009) 15 SCC 693
[8]    AIR 1951 SC 177
[9]    (1995) 6 SCC 580

[10]   (1990) 4 SCC 286
[11]   (1933-34) 61 IA 78 : AIR 1934 PC 23
[12]   AIR 1964 SC 1254
[13]   (2004) 10 SCC 779
[14]   (2007) 6 SCC 59
[15]   AIR 1973 MP 72
[16]   1991 MPLJ 81
[17]   AIR 2001 SC 1740
[18]   1969 All LJ 975


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