Indian SC had highlighted the need to reform the law relating to adverse possession in 2009 (See the blogpost). Yesterday it spoke again in the same language; one could in jest say that almost in the same sentences. The court took the exact same path of Hemaji Waghaji, locating the right to property within Human Rights and taking lead from European Court of Human Rights decisions. A gloss over English and American decisions and understandings augments court's conclusion that in adverse possession, law does not meet justice.
While dismissing the petition with exemplary cost for unnecessary litigation, the court once again sends the decision to Secretary of Law, Ministry of Law Justice to prompt the parliament to change the law through a legislative process. This time but the court gives two suggestions to be considered while the law is re-looked.
1. In case, the Parliament decides to retain the law of adverse possession, the Parliament might simply require adverse possession claimants to possess the property in question for a period of 30 to 50 years, rather than a mere 12.
2. If this law is to be retained, according to the wisdom of the Parliament, then at least the law must require those who adversely possess land to compensate title owners according to the prevalent market rate of the land or property in question…While it may be indefensible to require all adverse possessors – some of whom may be poor – to pay market rates for the land they possess, perhaps some lesser amount would be realistic in most of the cases. The Parliament may either fix a set range of rates or to leave it to the judiciary with the option of choosing from within a set range of rates so as to tailor the compensation to the equities of a given case.