A recent judgment1 delivered by the Hon’ble Supreme Court sheds light on the complex issue of eviction
and possession rights in property disputes. The case revolves around a Plaintiff-Respondent who filed a
Suit for eviction and mesne profits (“Suit”) against the Defendant-Appellant. The judgment provides
valuable insights into the legal aspects of possession, ownership, and the significance of various
documents such as agreements, power of attorney, and wills in determining property rights.
BACKGROUND OF THE CASE
The Plaintiff-Respondent claimed ownership of a property based on an agreement to sell, a power of
attorney, a memo of possession, a receipt of payment of sale consideration, and a will executed by the
Defendant-Appellant. According to the Plaintiff, possession of the property was handed over to him in
part performance of the agreement to sell. However, the Defendant-Appellant, while not disputing the
execution of the documents, argued that they were manipulated on blank papers.
THE TRIAL AND APPELLATE PROCEEDINGS
The trial court framed three issues: (i) the alleged manipulation of documents, (ii) the Plaintiff’s right to
evict the Defendant, and (iii) the entitlement to mesne profits. After examining the evidence, the trial
court ruled in favour of the Plaintiff, concluding that there was no evidence of manipulation or
fraudulent obtaining of the documents. It further established the Plaintiff’s possessory rights over the
property and ordered eviction and payment of mesne profits, albeit at a lower rate than claimed.
The Defendant-Appellant, dissatisfied with the trial court’s decision, appealed to the higher courts. The
appellate courts upheld the trial court’s decision, emphasizing the absence of evidence supporting
document manipulation and the Plaintiff’s established possessory rights. However, the DefendantAppellant did not raise the issue of the documents’ validity as a substantial question of law in the trial
court or the first appellate court. Consequently, the High Court held that this issue could not be raised
in the appeal.
After having lost from all the three Courts below, the Defendant-Appellant to the Suit preferred the Civil
Appeal before the Hon’ble Supreme Court, whose observations are as hereinbelow.
KEY POINTS FROM THE JUDGMENT
(1) Possessory Rights: While an agreement to sell may not confer absolute ownership, it can establish
possessory rights in part performance of the agreement. In this case, the Plaintiff-Respondent’s
possessory rights, supported by the agreement, payment of sale consideration, and possession
memo, were found to be legitimate and protected by law.
(2) Irrelevance of Power of Attorney and Will: The court declared that a power of attorney and a
will executed during the lifetime of the transferor do not confer any right or title to the property.
These documents only become effective upon the death of the executant and cannot validate
possession or ownership rights beforehand
(3) Importance of Registered Conveyance Deed: The court highlighted that the prevailing practice
recognizing agreements to sell, power of attorney, and wills as valid documents of transfer is in
violation of statutory laws.2 To confer right and title in immovable property, a registered
conveyance deed in accordance with the Transfer of Property Act and Indian Registration Act is
(4) Protection under Section 53A of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882: Although an agreement to
sell is not a transaction of sale, it can provide prospective purchasers with possessory rights under
Section 53A of the TPA, 1882. These rights are protected, and the transferer or anyone claiming
under them cannot disturb the purchaser’s possession.
The judgment in this eviction and possession dispute clarifies the legal standing of possessory rights
established through an agreement to sell. It emphasizes the significance of registered conveyance deeds
for the transfer of property and highlights the limitations of power of attorney and wills in conferring
property rights. The decision ultimately reaffirms the Plaintiff-Respondent’s entitlement to eviction and
mesne profits based on his lawful possessory title over the property in question.
The judgment emphasizes the importance of adhering to the legal requirements for transferring
property rights. It clarifies that while an agreement to sell may not confer absolute ownership, it can
grant possessory rights to the buyer, which are protected under the law. This recognition of possessory
rights prevents the transferor or any other party from disturbing the buyer’s possession.
Furthermore, the judgment emphasizes that documents such as a power of attorney and a will,
executed during the lifetime of the transferor, do not confer any immediate rights or title to the
property. Their validity and enforceability arise only after the death of the executant. In this case, since
the testator is still alive, the will executed by the Defendant-Appellant does not confer any rights upon
The judgment also criticizes any prevalent practice or tradition that recognizes agreements to sell,
power of attorney, and wills as valid documents for property transfer. It clarifies that such practices
contradict the specific provisions of the law, which require the execution and registration of a
conveyance deed to confer right and title to immovable property.
DA LAW COMMENT
The judgment affirms possessory title established through the agreement to sell and lawful possession
of the property. It highlights the importance of adhering to the legal requirements for transferring
property rights and clarifies the limitations of documents such as power of attorney and wills in
conferring immediate rights to the property. The judgment provides valuable guidance on the legal
aspects of eviction and possession rights in property disputes, ensuring clarity and consistency in
resolving similar cases in the future.