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Documentary evidence necessary in an ownership claim: SC

Documentary evidence necessary in an ownership claim: SC
Supreme Court/Photo: Anil Shakya
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The Supreme Court on 22nd July has affirmed the judgement of the Indore Bench of the Madhya Pradesh HC which rejected the ownership claims of Ramesh Das over a Ram temple and the accompanying land without a title deed. 

A Bench of Justices A.S. Bopanna and R. Banumathi delivered the judgement in Ramesh Das v State of Madhya Pradesh & ors. As per the factual matrix, the temple was built by his forefathers out of their own funds and they worshipped the idol for generations. Ramesh Das, since dead and now represented by his legal heirs, succeeded his father and hence continued worshiping the idol and cultivating the surrounding 25 bighas of land which his father received as Jagir from the erstwhile Jagirdar. In 1992, the land was put up for auction by the Sub-Divisional Officer, against which this suit was filed seeking declaration of ownership and hence resisting dispossession of the land. 

The State Government in 1974 changed Revenue entries so as to appoint the District Collector as the Manager of the temple instead of the pujari. As a matter of law, Revenue entries cannot be changed without providing due opportunity to the person whose name subsists and is intended to be changed or corrected. The change was not objected by Laxmandas, the pujari and father of Ramesh Das at any time since 1974. Even the auction of 1992 came to be challenged as late as in 1996.

The MP High Court had also pointed out the lack of documentary evidence as to the ownership claim of Ramesh Das over the temple and the land.

Since no substantial question of law arose as contemplated in Section 100 of CPC, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal for being devoid of merits.


– India Legal Bureau

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