Disputes over property have been prevalent in India forever, whether for movable or immovable property. Disputes over property may occur for umpteen reasons. Majorly such disputes are caused among the legal heirs themselves concerning the shares of the inherited property, or among the joint owners of the property, or because of the wrong representation of the property by the seller to the buyer, or selling the property by obtaining the forged power of attorney or challenging the Will/gift making any transfer, etc. Among the same, title disputes are the most common kind of dispute in India. The ownership of property usually becomes a bone of contention if the dispute occurs among the family members regardless of their financial status or social standing.
When such disputes arise, the most common and obvious solution preferred to resolve them is to drag the matter to the court of law. However, there are various other methods that can be adopted to ensure speedy resolution of property disputes in India.
As a result of the increase in the number of such cases, the Indian legislature has significantly developed the laws governing property disputes in recent years.
Types of Property Disputes
The disputes are not only related to the ownership of the property but also relate to its possession. Therefore, property disputes majorly fall into the following categories:
- Title Disputes: These disputes arise when there are conflicts regarding the ownership status of the property. A person may challenge the title of the property on various grounds, such as invalid transfer.
- Disputes relating to Possession: Conflicts may arise regarding the possession of the property when it is claimed that a property is not possessed lawfully, which means that the person who is in possession of the property is not legally authorised to possess it.
Methods to Resolve Property Disputes
It is to be noted that one can acquire ownership of the property via inheriting the whole property. Or its share in the property from the ancestors or via self-acquiring the same. Therefore, the rights of a person over both such types, i.e., ancestral property and self-acquired, are different.
General ways to resolve the Property Disputes in India would be either through Family Settlement or Litigation. However, there are a variety of laws that govern different types of disputes, and there are alternative options to amicably solving any dispute. ADR, i.e., Alternative Dispute Resolution in property cases, is one such solution that assists the courts greatly in resolving conflicts outside of court and reducing the burden on the court. But it does not imply that all the cases are solved through ADRs; there are cases where the parties take the help of the court.
- ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution): Solving a dispute via ADR may include Negotiation, Conciliation, Mediation or Arbitration. Determining and choosing any of the aforesaid alternative methods of solving the dispute always depends on the facts and circumstances of the case.
- Civil Cases: The Civil Procedure Code provides various remedies to people who are aggrieved by the acts of others relating to their properties. Suit for Declaration, Permanent Injunction, and Possession are the most common civil remedies that are adopted in India. Although the procedure for dispute resolution through courts is well-defined, it is quite lengthy due to various legal proceedings which are obligatory.
- Family Settlement Arrangement: The method of family settlement is usually adopted to settle common property or joint property disputes rather than settling disputes relating to an individual or self-acquired property. Such settlement is not only limited to the title of property but can also be done for its use and possession. Indian courts have also regarded the family settlement as a transaction between family members for the benefit of the family so as to preserve their property, peace, and reputation.
NRI and Property Disputes:
Numerous times, NRIs who are far away from their homes face problems and property disputes that may arise as a result of numerous circumstances, which might include tenants/caretakers/relatives who are only residing in their property for claiming the ownership through adverse possession or any relative conducting the illegal sale of the property resulting into illegal mutation entries done by someone and now the name of the legitimate owner does not reflect in the revenue records for the property in question.
A Law firm, in any such state of affairs, can help and guide NRIs in the right direction, provide an approach that is most suitable to their case and point out the legality of the same. The lawyers can also assist NRIs in pursuing the matters and represent them in a court of law.
- One of the most common legal disputes in India is property disputes, whether moveable or immovable.
- Property disputes in India account for more than half of the pending caseload in the courts.
- The Indian diaspora or Overseas Indians face such property disputes as they are not physically present to oversee their properties.
- As a result of the increase in the number of such cases. The Indian legislature has significantly developed the laws governing disputes in recent years.
- There are various ways to resolve such disputes like- Civil procedure, family settlement, and alternate dispute resolution.
- NRIs can consult a property lawyer or a property law firm for assistance.