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Plaintiff is the rightful owner and occupier of the property described in the plaint schedule and the defendant, who is the plaintiff’s son-in-law, has no legal authority to impede that possession: Kerala High Court

Plaintiff is the rightful owner and occupier of the property described in the plaint schedule and the defendant, who is the plaintiff’s son-in-law, has no legal authority to impede that possession is upheld by the Kerala High Court in the case of Davis Raphel v. Hendry Thomas (RSA NO. 418 OF 2019) through Justice N. Anil Kumar.

FACTS OF THE CASE

In the current case, a permanent injunction prohibiting the defendant from trespassing into the plaint schedule property, interfering with the plaintiff’s peaceful possession and enjoyment of the plaint schedule property and the house there, or committing any waste there was sought by the plaintiff, a 69-year-old, as the respondent in the appeal.

Through a gift deed, the plaintiff acquired ownership of the aforementioned suit property. Plaintiff further stated that he had built a concrete home on the subject land using his own money and that he and his family were dwelling there.

The trial court ruled that the plaintiff is the rightful owner and occupier of the property described in the plaint schedule and that the defendant, who is the plaintiff’s son-in-law, has no legal authority to impede that possession.

Although the defendant was the plaintiff’s son-in-law, he had no legal claim to the property. The plaintiff’s peaceful ownership and enjoyment of the subject property was being interfered with by the defendant, which was the reason the lawsuit was filed.

The son-in-law claimed that after marrying the plaintiff’s sole child, he was effectively adopted into the family and treated as a member. As a result, he insisted that he is legally entitled to live there. He further stated that he had built a structure on the site using his own funds and lacked another place to live.

JUDGMENT

It would be challenging to maintain that the defendant was a family member, according to the High Court. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit seeking a permanent prohibitory order barring the defendant from entering the land and structure listed in the plaint schedule after the court recognised that the defendant’s behaviour had grown unacceptable.

According to the High Court, it is a well-established legal concept that even a trespasser who is in legitimate possession of the property may be granted an injunction. If the plaintiff had been the real owner of the property in the current case, the situation might have been different. It is dishonourable for the defendant, who was the son-in-law in this case, to claim that he had been adopted into the family after marrying the plaintiff’s daughter.

In the case of Nair Service Society Ltd. v. K.C. Alexander (AIR 1968 SC 1165), the Supreme Court’s three-judge bench reaffirmed the tenet that possession is valid against everyone but the genuine owner. Therefore, a person who is in possession of the land while acting in the capacity of the owner and using the normal rights of ownership in a peaceful manner has a perfectly good title against everyone save the genuine owner.

A legal action was brought by the legitimate owner to prevent him from entering the property and get an injunction. The defendant’s residence in the plaint schedule building, if any, is purely permissive in nature. The defendant cannot claim to be the rightful owner of the building or the property under action.

The Court further stated that it was unnecessary to determine the legality of the Gift Deed that the Church had signed in the plaintiff’s favour. In light of Section 52 of the Indian Evidence Act, which states that facts relating to a person’s character are irrelevant in civil disputes, the plaintiff’s claim that he was a man of ill reputation and not friendly with family members was rejected.

The aforementioned section establishes the rule that a party’s character cannot be used as evidence to show that behaviour attributed to him is neither probable nor improbable. To be a legal issue in the case, there must first be a basis for it put out in the pleadings, the issue should arise from the verifiable factual conclusions reached by the courts of facts, and it must be essential to resolve that legal issue for a just and proper resolution of the case.

Therefore, the appeal was rejected by the Court because it found no mistakes in the lower courts’ ruling.

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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY NISHTHA GARHWAL

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