This article is written by Devina pursuing BBA LLB from Ansal University.
The word “Land” can be understood as the part of Earth’s surface not covered by water or can be termed as a “country or a state” but in the terms of Law, it encompasses various things like buying and renting of property, easements, fixtures, lease and sublease of the property, purchase of the property where a transferor being the owner of the land can transfer the property to the transferee under a suitable restrictions of a contract. From the British Colonial period, the land has been a disputable property as “State” alone cannot privately own a land.
Disputes arise as there is no harmony between the administrative action and the rule of law.
Over a period of time, the Supreme Court of India has seen a huge rise in the number of cases relating to land acquisition, corruption, wrong possession of land, the purpose and usage of land for conducting illegal activities. Various suits over a period of time have been pending in the courts as people struggle to hold this valuable possession in their hands. Courts are the intermediaries between the people and the disputable land in question one can file a lawsuit if their legal right relating to a land is in jeopardy or if there is a hindrance to the enjoyment of their property. As a matter of fact, Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 mentions the Power to Issue Order in Urgent cases of Nuisance or Apprehended Danger and explains that the Magistrate or the State Government can abstain a person from doing an act with respect to certain property in his possession or under his management, if the Magistrate considers that such diversion is likely to prevent, or tends to prevent, any obstruction, annoyance, or injury to any lawful person employed, or danger to human life, health and safety, riot or affray.
The Magistrate on his own or the on the application of the aggrieved person can pass this order where the applicant has a fair opportunity to appear before the Magistrate and plead the show cause against the instituted order as to the dispute amounting to immovable property. In the case of Kartik Lall and Ors. V. The State of Bihar (1967 CriLJ 1119) Plaintiff and his sons had initiated a suit in order to get a permanent injunction against the defendants to stop them from interfering over plaintiff’s land which they possessed. The plaintiff began constructing the house on their land when the defendants started interfering with their construction process. The decree was passed by the court and the executive action was taken, constables were deployed on and near the land to stop the interference of the defendants. An owner should always establish the title of his possession clearly if a transfer of the property is done fraudulently it would engage a land in a suit which will be disputable and the process of law is time-consuming and often huge costs are incurred in a matter of litigation.
Institution of Civil Suits
Parties can approach to the Court to file a suit whenever they fail to resolve the issue among themselves. As per Section 15 of the Civil Procedure Code one cannot file a case under any court it is always advisable to file a case under the lowest grade competent Court, the initiation of a suit is limited by the territorial and pecuniary jurisdictions of the court. It is called Place of Suing. In cases involving dispute matters relating to immovable property the suit must be initiated in the place where the property is situated, or within the territorial jurisdiction of the property is situated. According to Section 16 of the Civil Procedure Court, various suits can be filed which is subjected to the pecuniary and other limitations as prescribed by the law, suits:
- For the recovery of immovable property with or without rent or profits.
- For the partition of immovable property.
- For the foreclosure, sale or redemption in the case of a mortgage or any charge on immovable property.
- For the determination of any other right to, interest in immovable property.
- For compensation to the damage done to immovable property.
- For the recovery of immovable property under distraint or attachment.
If the suit is maintainable for the relief obtaining any damage done to the immovable property by the defendant, the suit can be instituted in the court either where the defendant voluntarily resides and carries on business, or personally works for gains or in the local limits of where the property is situated within the jurisdiction of the court. Along with the above mentioned suits one can also file various other suits:
Suits for immovable property situated within the jurisdiction of the other courts: When the suit is maintainable for the relief obtaining for the compensation for wrong to immovable property within the jurisdiction of different courts then the suit can be instituted local limits of whose any portion of the property is situated provided that the subject matter of the suit andthe entire claim is cognizable.
Suits for compensation any wrong to movables or persons: When the suit is maintainable for the compensation to any movable property or person, if the wrong was done within the jurisdiction of any one of the court and the defendant resides and carries on with his business in other jurisdiction of the court than on the will of the plaintiff the suit can be instituted in any one of the jurisdictions.
Suits to be instituted when there is more than the defendant: When there is more than one defendant or 10 defendants in a given case and all the defendants reside in all 10 different places but the plaintiff resides in proximity to one of the defendants. Where can the plaintiff file the suit? Section 20(b) of Civil Procedure Court explains that the plaintiff can initiate a suit where the cause of action arises within a jurisdiction, a plaintiff in this situation cannot file a suit at all 10 different places so where the cause arises a suit can be initiated in that particular jurisdiction. In the case of Phoolchand And Anr. V. Gopal(1967 AIR 1470, 1967 SCR (3) 153) the family of Phoolchand contested that they hold one-fifth of the share in the ancestral property and filed a suit for partition for the immovable property, the suit was defended by the defendants and a large number of pleas were raised on the contentions that the will was in favour of one of the defendants and held that all the property will be bequeathed by Gopan Lal( defendant) the validity of the will was in question as plaintiff contested on the genuineness of the will.
The Court held that the suit regarding partition was not valid and the contentions of the appellant were dismissed. There are many disputes prevalent in the legal constitutionality of the framework that one must also focus on the aspect relating to small scale disputes which can be settled through a way of alternative dispute methods. Many disputes cannot follow the path of a trial stage as the matter can be solved through mutual agreement and many contracts have a clause which specifically mentions that whenever a dispute arises it is to be solved through Mediation or Conciliation or can be through Negotiation and Arbitration.
Understanding the Boundary in Question
It is always advisable that it is of grave importance to understand the nature of the matter which is giving rise to initiating a suit and most importantly to understand the nature of the act. What to do in cases involving a dispute with a neighbour? “Neighbor Disputes” requires one to take considerable steps towards settling the issue through a way of negotiation rather than pushing the dispute in the trajectory of litigation. The first step to be taken is to open discussions with your neighbour regarding the issue which can be best resolved through a way of agreement often there is a misunderstanding which can be cleared as running to the courts is always not the best option.
If the first step does not give the desired results. One can always hire an attorney and do proper research on the title of the land, appraisal value or whether the property deeds have been assigned to the other party. Before initiating a suit in the court the last alternative can be sending of a demand letter to your neighbour through the attorney where one can settle the dispute by way of sharing the title to the property or can request a monetary payment if the law is in favour and one has gathered all the necessary evidence pertaining to the land as it can save both the parties from incurring huge costs. If negotiation or the demand letter still does not give the results one can prepare themselves to go for a court settlement.
It will involve a great deal of time, effort, and a lot of research work and filing of the documents to decide and argue before the court to establish who will legally own the land and in whose favour the judgement will be pronounced. If the suit is taking a considerable amount of time to settle the court may even push the parties to give an attempt to the course of mediation and to select a mediator who is an expert in the real estate matters. Settlement is possible if both the parties agree to derive and settle through mutual consultation and if not then one should prepare for the trial stage after consideration of the value of the land which is in dispute, the amount of costs that will be incurred and deciding whether the financial constraints of a party can pay the hefty amounts. If both the parties believe that the trial suits their best of interests then they should proceed with the formalities of the legal recourse of action and not because they think that the only way of winning the title is to go through a trial, one must know the all the legal implications of a suit and what can be expected off from both the parties to the dispute. The best situation in this scenario would be winning the case as losing over the title of land would not be in the best interest of the party.
In India, it is estimated that two-thirds of the civil cases in the country are amounting to land-related. Land conflicts have always been prevalent from the advent of the pre-colonial times in which people sometimes often choose a path of violence as the procedure and the pendency of the litigation took ages to solve and one had to make continuous efforts to come and attend Court hearings which often proved to be a very tedious task. The problem persists because people often think that only way to solve a dispute is to go through the doors of court and your matter, before initiating a suit in the courts one must hire a surveyor or an attorney to know the nature of the problem and not straight jump to the recourse of a trial, an investigation relating to the title of the land must be done. One must also conform to the local community laws.
It also has extensive negative effects on the social, ecological and economic environment. These changes largely resulting from urban sprawl have caused land to be one of the most controversial issues and a main source of conflict in these areas. Resolving the issue at hand requires a good governance system and implies having effective political, legal and judicial for, say, proper implementation and enforcement of land and legal policy legislations. It is essential to promote a varied culture of justice reforms within the society and implementation of the ownership rights and liabilities over a property and it can be achieved only by a combination of correcting institutional weaknesses and introducing good governance and maintaining harmony between the social and political reforms of land.
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