An Analysis of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the concept of Adverse Possession through the case, Radheshyamlal v. Sandhya and Anr.

Posted On - 14 June, 2024 • By - Arsalan Zaidi S M


Adverse possession, a doctrine rooted in the Limitation Act of 1963, allows an individual to claim ownership of land or property under specific conditions. If an individual occupies a property continuously and openly for a designated period without the true owner’s permission, they may legally assert ownership.

Case Background:

The disputed property originally belonged to an owner who passed away in 1947. Before his death, he executed a registered settlement deed in 1945, bequeathing the property to three individuals, as he died intestate without legal heirs. In 1955, the appellant filed a suit claiming continuous and uninterrupted possession of the property for 45 years, seeking ownership through adverse possession and a permanent injunction against the defendants, who sought to dispossess him based on a 2001 sale deed.

Legal Proceedings:

The defendants challenged the appellant’s claim, filing for possession and eviction of tenants. The City Civil Court ruled in favor of the defendants, a decision upheld by the High Court. Consequently, the appellant brought the case before the Hon’ble Supreme Court, which addressed several critical issues:

  1. Whether the plaintiff’s claim of adverse possession met legal requirements.
  2. Whether the plaintiff maintained open, continuous, and uninterrupted possession of the property for over 12 years, known to the true owner.
  3. Whether the lower courts correctly dismissed the plaintiff’s claim in favor of the defendants.

Supreme Court’s Analysis:

The Supreme Court emphasized the stringent criteria for adverse possession:

  • Plead and Prove Adverse Possession: The claimant must explicitly state and demonstrate possession adverse to the true owner.
  • Open, Continuous Possession: The possession must be open, continuous, and known to the true owner for the statutory period, typically 12 years.
  • Specific Commencement: The claimant must specify when the adverse possession began.

Justices Abhay S. Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan scrutinized the appellant’s evidence. They noted the appellant’s failure to provide essential details regarding the commencement of adverse possession and to prove continuous, hostile possession known to the original owner. The appellant’s claim of possession since 1950 was inconsistent, particularly given the original owner’s death in 1947 and affirmed that,

Court’s Decision:

The Supreme Court concluded that the plaintiff did not meet the rigorous standards required for adverse possession. The inconsistencies and lack of detailed evidence in the plaintiff’s statements undermined his claim. Consequently, both the Trial Court and High Court’s decisions to dismiss the claim were validated.


The Supreme Court’s ruling reinforces the high standards necessary to prove adverse possession under Indian law. This decision underscores the importance of precise details, continuous and open possession, and clear evidence known to the true owner. The judgment not only clarifies the requirements for adverse possession claims but also establishes a significant precedent for future property disputes. Claimants must now be meticulous in documenting and substantiating their possession to succeed, ensuring a more robust and transparent legal process.