The possession which a trespasser is entitled to defend against the rightful owner must be settled possession

KEYWORDS:-POSSESSION BY TRESPASSERS

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 In Rame Gowda v. M. Varadappa Naidu,(2004) 1 SCC 769, wherein the following was observed by Apex Court:

“9. The possession which a trespasser is entitled to defend against the rightful owner must be settled possession, extending over a sufficiently long period of time and acquiesced to by the true owner. A casual act of possession would not have the effect of interrupting the possession of the rightful owner. The rightful owner may re-enter and reinstate himself provided he does not use more force than is necessary. Such entry will be viewed only as resistance to an intrusion upon his possession which has never been lost. A stray act of trespass, or a possession which has not matured into settled possession, can be obstructed or removed by the true owner even by using necessary force. In Puran Singh case the Court clarified that it is difficult to lay down any hard-and-fast rule as to when the possession of a trespasser can mature into settled possession. The “settled possession” must be (i) effective, (ii) undisturbed, and (iii) to the knowledge of the owner or without any attempt at concealment by the trespasser…..The Court laid down the following tests which may be adopted as a working rule for determining the attributes of “settled possession” (SCC p.527, para 12):

(i) that the trespasser must be in actual physical possession of the property over a sufficiently long period;
(ii) that the possession must be to the knowledge (either express or implied) of the owner or without any attempt at concealment by the trespasser and which contains an element of animus possidendi. The nature of possession of the trespasser would, however, be a matter to be decided on the facts and circumstances of each case;
(iii) the process of dispossession of the true owner by the trespasser must be complete and final and must be acquiesced to by the true owner; and
(iv) that one of the usual tests to determine the quality of settled possession, in the case of culturable land, would be whether or not the trespasser, after having taken possession, had grown any crop. If the crop had been grown by the trespasser, then even the true owner, has no right to destroy the crop grown by the trespasser and take forcible possession.”