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Exclusion In Favour Of Reversioner Of Servient Tenement

Property law in India encompasses a wide array of legal principles, with easements being a crucial aspect. Easements entail the right to use another individual's land for specific purposes. In this context, Section 26 of the Limitation Act, 1963, assumes paramount importance, offering insights into how time is excluded to favor the reversioner concerning the servient tenement. It's imperative to grasp the legal intricacies governing the acquisition and protection of easements to navigate property disputes effectively.

Section 26 of the Limitation Act stands as a linchpin in Indian property law, particularly in the realm of easement acquisition. Its significance is profound, serving as a bulwark for reversioners, ensuring their rights are safeguarded against potential encroachments upon servient tenements. This article seeks to delve into the scope, objective, and implications of Section 26, thereby providing a comprehensive understanding of its provisions and its significance within Indian property law.

The objective of this exploration is to dissect Section 26 of the Limitation Act, which deals intricately with the exclusion of time in favor of the reversioner of a servient tenement concerning the acquisition of easements. This provision assumes a critical role in property law, serving as a protective measure for reversioners against the acquisition of easements under specific circumstances. By unraveling the intricacies of Section 26, this analysis aims to shed light on its scope, objectives, and implications, thereby providing legal practitioners and stakeholders with a nuanced understanding of its application in property disputes within the Indian legal framework.

Understanding Section - 26
Where any land or water upon, over or from, which any easement has been enjoyed or derived has been held under or by virtue of any interest for life or in terms of years exceeding three years from the granting thereof, the time of the enjoyment of such easement during the continuance of such interest or term, is to be excluded in the computation of the period of twenty years in case the claim is, within three years next after the determination of such interest or term, resisted by the person entitled on such determination to the said land or water.

A sues for a declaration that he is entitled to a right of way over B's land. A proves that he has enjoyed the right for twenty- five years; but B shows that during ten of these years C, a Hindu widow, had a life-interest in the land, that on C's death B became entitled to the land, and that within two years after C's death, he contested A's claim to the right.

The suit must be dismissed, as A, with reference to the provision of this section has only proved enjoyment for fifteen years.

Scope And Objective Of This Section
The section is entirely for the benefit of reversioners. The object of the section is the prevention of easement being acquired under the Act against interested persons who are incapable of resistance. The section does not apply to a donee or transferee from a Hindu widow by virtue of her powers as representing the estate, since in such a case, the transferee succeeds the widow in her capacity as full owner and not as upon the determination of her life interest. Another object of this section is to preclude any easement from arising where the servient tenement is enjoyed or held for a limited period, obviously because a person having a limited interest may not have any enthusiasm in opposing or resisting any enjoyment that might ultimately ripen into an easement.

Section Analyzed
When during the period of prescription the servient tenement has been held by:
  1. a tenant for life, or
  2. a lessee under a lease for a term, the term of which exceeded three years, and the claim is contested within three years from the determination of the interest of the life-tenant or the term of the lease,-the period during which the servient tenement was held by the life-tenant or lessee is excluded in computing the period for 20 years.
When the period of twenty years was running the servient tenement was held by a limited owner having only a life-interest in it, this section provides that the period during which the servient tenement has been held by a person with life-interest only, or with an interest limited only for a term of years (exceeding three years), is to be excluded in reckoning the "twenty years" prescribed by S. 25 provided that the reversioner, within three years of his getting into the reversion, resists the claim to the easement.

In another words Section 26 provides that in computing the period of twenty years mentioned in section 25, if the servant tenant has been held by virtue of any life interest or any other (limited) interest for a term exceeding three years, the time of enjoyment of such easement during the continuance of such life interest or limited interest shall be excluded in computing the period of twenty years, in case the claim to the easement is, within three years next after the determination of such interest or term, resisted by the person entitled, on such determination, to the dominant tenement.

With context to the above mentioned section, the Section 25 of the Limitation Act talks about the acquisition of easements by prescription, which means gaining the right to use another's property through long term, uninterrupted and peaceful enjoyment.
  1. If someone has peacefully and rightfully access to light, air, a way, watercourse or other easement for 20 years without interruption, the right to such access becomes absolute and cannot be contested.
  2. The 20 year period is considered to end within two years before the start of any legal dispute related to the claimed easement.
  3. When the property in question belongs to the government, the 20 year period is extended to 30 years.
  4. An interruption only occurs if someone other than the claimant actively obstructs the possession or the enjoyment and such obstruction is tolerated for a year after the claimant is aware of it.

Relevant Case Laws
Mahomed Alii v/s Jugal Ramchandra, 14 Suth WR 124
The court held that where a claim to a right of is supported by evidence of user only, the court must satisfy itself whether or not the user was founded on actual right, the guiding principle being the open user of another's land for the purposes of road or pathway if continued without interruption for a long time and not attributable to permission induces presumption that user was right.

Ismail Biswas and Ors v/s Emperors AIR 1930 Col 289
The court held that if evidence is that a person has occupation of lands and has been taking water to irrigate his lands through a channel from this tank, that is pretty good evidence that he has some right so to do. This is not one of those things that can be concealed or that can be done behind back of people so that nobody in the neighborhood can possibly get to know of it. It is done openly and on the face of it, it appears to the court that the fact of enjoyment of such a right as that is some evidence of right itself.

Section 26 of the Limitation Act plays a pivotal role in property law, particularly concerning the acquisition of easements. By intricately examining the provisions of Section 26, this analysis has provided invaluable insights into its scope, objectives, and implications.

A nuanced understanding and application of Section 26 are indispensable for legal practitioners, as it directly shapes the outcomes of property disputes and the acquisition of easements in India. Through its meticulous provisions, Section 26 strikes a delicate balance between the interests of dominant and servient tenements, while also extending protection to vulnerable individuals such as infants, the mentally incapacitated, and married women who may own servient tenements.

Furthermore, Section 26 serves as a beacon of fairness and equity within Indian property law, upholding the rights of reversioners and maintaining equilibrium amidst competing interests in the realm of easements. As such, its diligent application remains paramount in ensuring the integrity and efficacy of property rights within the Indian legal framework.

In essence, Section 26 is not merely a legal provision but a cornerstone of justice, ensuring that the acquisition of easements is conducted equitably and in accordance with the principles of fairness and equity. Its comprehensive understanding and judicious application are indispensable for fostering a robust legal framework that upholds the rights of all stakeholders involved in property disputes.

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