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CASE LAW ON SETTLED POSSESSION AND PROTECTION UNDER LAW

1. The plaintiff relies on the rulings reported as Rame Gowda v. M. Vardappa Naidu, 2004 (1) SCC 769, Krishna Ram Mahale v. Shobha Venkat Rao, AIR 1989 SC 2097 for the argument that when a person is in settled possession of property, even on the assumption that he had no right to remain on the property, he cannot be dispossessed by the owner of the property, except by recourse to law.

2. The concept of settled possession and the right of the possessor to protect his possession against the owner has come to be settled by a catena of decision. Illustratively, we may refer to Munshi Ram and Ors. v. Delhi Administration – (1968) 2 SCR 455. Puran Singh and Ors. v. The State of Punjab – (1975) 4 SCC 518 and Ram Rattan and Ors. v. State of Uttar Pradesh – (1977) 1 SCC 188. The authorities need not be multiplied. In Munshi Ram Ors.’s case, it was held that no one, including the true owner, has a right to dispossess the trespasser by force if the trespasser is in settled possession of the land and in such a case unless he is evicted in the due course of law, he is entitled to defend his possession even against the rightful owner.

3. This has been reiterated in Subramaniaswamy Temple, v. V. Kanna Gounder, 2009 (3) SCC 306.

4. In the decision reported in Sopan Sukhdeo Sable v. Assistant Charity Commissioner ((2004) 3 SCC 137) it was held as follows: There are two different sets of principles which have to be borne in mind regarding course to be adopted in case of forcible dispossession. Taking up the first aspect, it is true that where a person is in settled possession of property, even on the assumption that he has no right to remain in property, he cannot be dispossessed by the owner except by recourse to law.

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