10 September 2020

Suit for injuction simpliciter is maintainable when plaintiff is in lawful or peaceful possession of property

A person out of possession, cannot seek the relief of injunction simpliciter, without claiming the relief of possession


If two persons claim to be in possession of a vacant site, one who is able to establish title thereto will be considered to be in possession, as against the person who is not able to establish title.


    The general principles as to when a mere suit for permanent injunction will lie, and when it is necessary to file a suit for declaration and/or possession with injunction as a consequential relief, are well settled. We may refer to them briefly.[Para No.11]

Suit for injuction simpliciter is maintainable when plaintiff is in lawful or peaceful possession of property
    Where a plaintiff is in lawful or peaceful possession of a property and such possession is interfered or threatened by the defendant, a suit for an injunction simpliciter will lie. A person has a right to protect his possession against any person who does not prove a better title by seeking a prohibitory injunction. But a person in wrongful possession is not entitled to an injunction against the rightful owner.[Para No.11.1]

    Where the title of the plaintiff is not disputed, but he is not in possession, his remedy is to file a suit for possession and seek in addition, if necessary, an injunction. A person out of possession, cannot seek the relief of injunction simpliciter, without claiming the relief of possession.[Para No.11.2]

    Where the plaintiff is in possession, but his title to the property is in dispute, or under a cloud, or where the defendant asserts title thereto and there is also a threat of dispossession from defendant, the plaintiff will have to sue for declaration of title and the consequential relief of injunction. Where the title of plaintiff is under a cloud or in dispute and he is not in possession or not able to establish possession, necessarily the plaintiff will have to file a suit for declaration, possession and injunction.[Para No.11.3]

    We may however clarify that a prayer for declaration will be necessary only if the denial of title by the defendant or challenge to plaintiff's title raises a cloud on the title of plaintiff to the property. A cloud is said to raise over a person's title, when some apparent defect in his title to a property, or when some prima facie right of a third party over it, is made out or shown. An action for declaration, is the remedy to remove the cloud on the title to the property. On the other hand, where the plaintiff has clear title supported by documents, if a trespasser without any claim to title or an interloper without any apparent title, merely denies the plaintiff's title, it does not amount to raising a cloud over the title of the plaintiff and it will not be necessary for the plaintiff to sue for declaration and a suit for injunction may be sufficient. Where the plaintiff, believing that defendant is only a trespasser or a wrongful claimant without title, files a mere suit for injunction, and in such a suit, the defendant discloses in his defence the details of the right or title claimed by him, which raises a serious dispute or cloud over plaintiff's title, then there is a need for the plaintiff, to amend the plaint and convert the suit into one for declaration. Alternatively, he may withdraw the suit for bare injunction, with permission of the court to file a comprehensive suit for declaration and injunction. He may file the suit for declaration with consequential relief, even after the suit for injunction is dismissed, where the suit raised only the issue of possession and not any issue of title.[Para No.12]

    In a suit for permanent injunction to restrain the defendant from interfering with plaintiff's possession, the plaintiff will have to establish that as on the date of the suit he was in lawful possession of the suit property and defendant tried to interfere or disturb such lawful possession. Where the property is a building or building with appurtenant land, there may not be much difficulty in establishing possession. The plaintiff may prove physical or lawful possession, either of himself or by him through his family members or agents or lessees/licensees. Even in respect of a land without structures, as for example an agricultural land, possession may be established with reference to the actual use and cultivation. The question of title is not in issue in such a suit, though it may arise incidentally or collaterally.[Para No.13]

    But what if the property is a vacant site, which is not physically possessed, used or enjoyed? In such cases the principle is that possession follows title. If two persons claim to be in possession of a vacant site, one who is able to establish title thereto will be considered to be in possession, as against the person who is not able to establish title. This means that even though a suit relating to a vacant site is for a mere injunction and the issue is one of possession, it will be necessary to examine and determine the title as a prelude for deciding the de jure possession. In such a situation, where the title is clear and simple, the court may venture a decision on the issue of title, so as to decide the question of de jure possession even though the suit is for a mere injunction. But where the issue of title involves complicated or complex questions of fact and law, or where court feels that parties had not proceeded on the basis that title was at issue, the court should not decide the issue of title in a suit for injunction. The proper course is to relegate the plaintiff to the remedy of a full-fledged suit for declaration and consequential reliefs.[Para No.14]

Supreme Court of India

Anathula Sudhakar
Vs.
P. Buchi Reddy

(2008) 4 SCC 594
2008 AIR(SC) 2033






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