The principle of adverse possession dates back to the British era. According to this law, if a person is in a continuous possession of a property for 12 years, then the ownership of that property will be transferred to that person. This concept was introduced with the motive to improve the land usage but over the years, it has become a means to obtain hostile possession of property through unsolicited means as the rightful owner will be denied the right in such property.

The essential elements for claiming ownership right by way of Adverse Possession are-

a.       Uninterrupted possession in property for 12 years.

b.      The possessor must have been in actual and exclusive possession of the property.

c.       The possession must be open, notorious in the sense that it should not be secretive, rather should be openly possessed.

d.      Possession must be hostile and adverse to the interests of the true owner.

Adverse Possession and Limitation Act

The law on Adverse Possession is governed by the Limitation Act, 1963. According to it, if the owner of a certain property fails to make his/her claim towards his/her property for 12 years, while some other person (Y) is in possession of such property, the ownership rights will be transferred to such other person (Y). The law finds its traces from Section 27 read with Article 64 and 65 of Schedule I.

Section 27- it lays down that the right to property shall be extinguished if the cause of action exists to file a suit for possession and the same is not filed within the limitation period prescribed.

Article 65 Sch.-I- It prescribes a limitation of 12 years for a suit for possession of immovable property or any interest therein based on the title. The period of limitation shall start from the day the possession becomes adverse to the real owner.

Article 64 Sch.-I- It prescribes limitation of 12 years for suits for possession based on possessory right. The period of limitation shall start from the day of dispossession.

Judicial Interpretation

The rules/guidelines/principles applicable to the law of adverse possession are formulated by the Landmark judgements of the courts.

The concept of adverse possession was firstly introduced into India by way of Perry vs. Clissold, 1907 and the same was upheld by the Supreme Court in Nair Service Society v K.C. Alexande, 1968.

In Amrendra Pratap  Singh vs. Tej  Bahadur Prajapati,2004 the Apex court held-The  process  of  acquisition  of  title  by adverse  possession  springs  into  action  essentially  by  default  or  inaction  of  the  owner”. 


Recently, in an interesting judgement by Odisha High Court in the case of Sri Raj Kishore Panda v. State of Odisha, the court held that the right of adverse possession does not come into action merely because someone loses his right to reclaim his property out of continuous and wilful neglect but also on account of possessor’s positive intent to dispossess the real owner.

Hence, we can see that the law on adverse possession has been time and again utilized to make sure that no land is left idle and that one who sleeps over his right, should not get the result. Till now, we do not have any specific legislation in place for the law on adverse possession and the same is yet governed by the precedents of various courts.



·         The Limitation Act, 1963

·         Perry vs. Clissold, (1907) A.C. 73

·         Nair Service Society vs. K.C. Alexande, AIR 1968 SC 1165.

·         Amrendra Pratap Singh vs. Tej  Bahadur Prajapati, (2004)  10 SCC  65.

·         Sri Raj Kishore Panda v. State of Odisha, RSA No.57 of 2020, decided on 26-03-2021.

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