Ayodhya verdict Explained: What is adverse possession, the Muslim claim SC rejected?

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News:One of the key legal questions the Constitution Bench has answered was related to adverse possession raised by the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board, in its suit filed in 1961.

Facts:

What is Adverse possession?

  • In simple terms, adverse possession is hostile possession of a property which has to be continuous, uninterrupted and peaceful. 
  • The apex court said that the adverse possession claimed by Muslims was not continuous and exclusive in nature and hence they could not assert the right of adverse possession.

What constitutes adverse possession?

  • The apex court relied on observations made by the former Supreme Court judge Justice S Rajendra Babu (in Karnataka Board of Wakf v Government of India). 
  • The Bench quoted the 2004 judgment which said that a person who claims adverse possession should show:(a) on what date he came into possession (b) what was the nature of his possession (c) whether the factum of possession was known to the other party (d) how long his possession has continued and (e) his possession was open and undisturbed.
  • This effectively meant that the onus was on Muslims to prove with facts that the possession was undisturbed.
  • However,besides being unable to prove possession between 1528 and 1860,the Muslims also failed to establish that the possession was undisturbed.