6.—Suit by person dispossessed of immovable property–
- If any person is dispossessed without his consent of immovable property otherwise than in due course of law, then he or any person [through whom he has been in possession or any person] claiming through him may, by suit, recover possession thereof, notwithstanding any other title that may be set up in such suit.
- No suit under this section shall be brought.
- after the expiry of six months from the date of dispossession; or
- against the government.
- No appeal shall lie from any order or decree passed in any suit instituted under this Section, nor shall any review of any such order or decree be allowed.
- Nothing in this section shall bar any person from suing to establish his title to such property and to recover possession thereof.
- Under Section 6 when a person is dispossessed without his consent of immovable property without following the due course of law then either he or any person claiming through him, by suit, recover possession by filing a suit.
Essential of Section 6
- Any person must be dispossessed of immovable property without his consent;
- He must be dispossessed otherwise than in due course of law;
- Where above essentials are fulfilled then either he or any person claiming through him may file a suit to recover the possession.
1. Any person is dispossessed without his consent of immovable property-
- First thing which the plaintiff has to prove is that he has judicial possession of the Immovable Property and defendant has taken possession of that immovable property without his consent.
- Expression “any person claiming through him” includes a landlord whose tenant has been dispossessed by someone else. The expression would bring within its fold the landlord as he continues in legal possession over the tenanted property through his tenant; [Sadashiv Shyama Sawant v. Anita Anant Sawant, (2010) 3 SCC 385: JT 2010 (2) SC 305: (2010) 2 SCALE 530.]
Possession voluntarily transferred by the plaintiff, not covered under Sec. 6
- It may be noted that Section 6 covers only that case where the plaintiff is unlawfully dispossessed of immovable property. However, where the plaintiff has either given the consent to the defendant for taking possession or the plaintiff has voluntarily given possession to the defendant then Section 6 is not applicable and he cannot file a suit under Section 6.
- In Sukhjeet Singh V. Sirajunnisa, the tenant handed over possession of premises to the landlord for marriage of his son. The landlord failed to hand over the possession again to the tenant after his son’s marriage. It was held that even though the tenant may have been deceived later on but since he handed over the possession of his own volition, he could not claim the possession again under Section 6, as the Section was not attracted in this situation.
2. He must be dispossessed otherwise than in due course of law-
Another essential of Section 6 is that the plaintiff must be dispossessed without following procedure under law. Therefore, where the plaintiff is dispossessed without following law he can file a suit under this section.
- In K. Verma V. Union of India it was held by the Bombay High Court that the possession of tenant even after the expiry of tenancy period is juridical possession and hence the owner cannot throw him out without following the procedure of law.
- The purpose behind section 6 of the Act is to restrain a person from using force and to dispossess a person without his consent otherwise than in due course of law; [East India Hotels Ltd. v. Syndicate Bank, 1992 Supp (2) SCC 29 (36).]
- ‘Due course of law’ implies that right of the person affected thereby to be present before the tribunal which pronounces judgment upon the question of life, liberty or property in its most comprehensive sense; to be heard, by testimony or otherwise, and to have the right determination of the controversy by proof every material fact which bears on the question of fact or liability be conclusively proved or presumed against him; [East India Hotels Ltd. v. Syndicate Bank, 1992 Supp (2) SCC 29 (36).]
- Section 6 does not in any way contemplate an enquiry into title; the court is required to confine itself to evidence of possession and possession only. The result is that even if the defendant has a better title than the plaintiff, he cannot resist the plaintiff’s suit for recovery of possession if the plaintiff proves the allegation made by him.
- In a suit under section 6 of the Act, the only question that has to be determined by the Court is whether the plaintiff was in possession of the disputed property and whether he had been illegally dispossessed therefrom on any date within six months prior to the filing of the suit; [T.C. Limited v. Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society Ltd., 2012 (8) JT 188: 2012 (8) SCALE 11: 2012 (6) SLT 556.]
- Section 6 postulates the existence in the plaintiff on the date of eviction, at least possessory title. That means that he should have juridical possession and he should not be a mere trespasser squatting on the property. Juridical possession, in one, is actual possession with an intention of maintaining himself in possession [Neyveli Lignate Corpn. Ltd. v Narauna Iyer AIR 1965 Mad 122].
- It may be noted that ‘juridical possession’ cannot per se always be equated with ‘lawful possession’. The protection that the court affords is not of the possession, which in the circumstances is ‘litigious possession’ and cannot be equated with ‘lawful possession’, but a protection against forcible dispossession.
- The basis of relief is a corollary of the principle that even with the best of title there can be no forcible dispossession [M/s Patil Exhibitors (Pvt.) Ltd. v Bangalore City Corpn. AIR 1986 Kant. 194].
- Section 6 frowns upon forcible dispossession without recourse to law but does not at the same time declare that the possession of the evicted person Is a lawful possession [M.C. Chockalingam v V. Manickavasagam (1974) II SCJ 30].
- A landlord who was in possession through a tenant, on the dispossession of his tenant becomes dispossessed himself, and is, therefore entitled to seek his remedy under Sec. 6 [Jadunath Singh v Bishunath Singh, 1950 ALJ 288].
- When possession is taken by the State Government, grievance cannot be made by the petitioner until it has established its better title to the property and therefore becomes entitled to possession [C. Indra Kumar Pvt. Ltd, v State of Orissa AIR 1972 Ori 40.]
- Where the grant of possession was purely gratuitous, the owner had the right to reclaim possession even without the knowledge of the person in possession. The party in possession in this case was using the garage owned by the sister. The owner dispossessed him [Anima Mallick v Ajoy Kumar Roy (2000) 4 SCC 119].
- Under Sec. 6, all that the plaintiff has to prove is his previous possession and dispossession by the defendant within a period of six months from the date of suit. The remedy provided by Sec. 6 is thus an additional/supplementary one and does not preclude the party dispossessed to assert his title in the ordinary court of law, even though the suit is brought beyond six months of his dispossession. A suit based on possession alone is not incompetent after the expiry of 6 months and a suit based on prior possession could be filed within 12 years, under Sec. 5, and title need not be proved unless the defendant can prove one [Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams v K. M. Krishnaiah AIR 1998 SC 1132].
- If the plaintiff is in possession of the property in part-performance of a contract for sale and the requirements of Sec. 53-A, T. P. Act are satisfied, he may protect his possession even against the true owner. Therefore, in view of Sec. 53-A, T. P. Act, and, Sec. 6 of Specific Relief Act, the person in possession may not have title to the property yet if he has been inducted into possession by the rightful owner and he is in peaceful and settled possession of such property he is entitled in law to protect the possession until dispossessed by due process of law by a person having better title than what he has [Ramesh Chand Ardawatiya v Anil Panjwani AIR 2003 SC 2508]
Who can file a suit
- Under Section 6 of the Act, prior to the Amendment Act 2018, a person who was removed from actual possession or a person claiming through him, could file a suit in relation to such dispossession. However, the owner or its agent or other appointee could not file a suit for recovery of such property once the tenant or lessee etc. in possession of the property was dispossessed. By the Specific Relief (Amendment) Act 2018, a title holder of immovable property or agent or appointee will have a right to sue for recovery of possession of immovable property as is available to a person who was deriving possession though him, e.g. tenant, mortgagee etc.
Plaintiff must come with clean hands
- It has been held by the Supreme Court in Mahabir Prasad Jain v. Ganga Singh that a person seeking equitable relief under the Specific Relief Act, should come to the court with clean hand. In this case the respondent tenant, who was sued for possession instead of giving evidence of his tenancy, instituted different proceedings in different cases within a short time making inconsistent allegations against the landlord. It was held that he was abusing the process of the court and he did not come to the court within clean hands. He was, therefore, held not entitled to any equitable relief under the Specific Relief Act.
Limitation period for suit
- Significantly, the limitation period for filing a suit under Section 6 is 6 months. However, where suit is filed after 6 months generally no relief is granted unless there is a reasonable ground to condone and the court is satisfied by that ground.
No Suit against the Government
- It is important to mention that under Section 6(2) no suit can be filed against the State or Government. Therefore, when a person has been dispossessed of the immovable property by the State he cannot bring an action under the Specific Relief Act.
No appeal/review from order/decree passed under Section 6
- According to Section 6 (3) no appeal shall lay from any order or decree passed in any suit instituted under Section 6, nor shall any review of any such order or decree be allowed.
- In Vanita M. Khansalkar v Pranga M Pai, the question which had arisen before the Supreme Court was whether bar to an appeal from an order passed under Section 6(3) of the Specific Relief Act, 1963 was applicable to a Letters Patent Appeal from an order passed by a single judge to the Division Bench of the High Court. It was held that bar to appeal and revision under Section 6(3) does not apply to Letters Patent Appeal.
No bar on a person from instituting a suit to establish his title to immovable property and to recover the possession of the same-
- Section 6 does not bar any person to bring a regular suit founded upon his title in respect of the immovable property and to recover possession thereof even though a suit instituted under Section 6(1) of this Act has been decreed against him.
Question. On 01.01.2006 ‘A’ occupied an empty plot of land measuring 500 sq. yds which as per municipal records was in the name of ‘B’; government employee. After one year ‘A’ built a two room house thereon. On 15.01.2015 ‘B’ forcibly dispossessed A’. On 05.05.2015 ‘A’ filed a suit under section 6 of the Specific Relief Act for possession against ‘B’. ‘B’ contested the suit on the ground that he was the real owner while ‘A’ contended that he was in “settled possession” till 15.01. 2015. Decide. [DJS 2018]