Land sharing and property claims
My father and his brother bought two plot adjacent to each other. Since uncle's land was a bit small, my father agreed to share a piece of our land and make common stairs for both house(stairs are on our land, still we are the owners on paper). But lately there have been frequent fights over the stairs. We are planning to wall the stairs now but that would leave them with no option to go on the roof. My question is can they by any mean claim the land since its been around 20 years now we are sharing the land on any grounds. Also, does property rules vary from state to state? This case is related to Bihar
This case is governed under the Indian Easement Act, 1882, whose rules are nationally uniform. An easement is a right which allows the owner or occupier of a certain immovable property like land to ensure that his right to access the adjoining property for a justified reason is not suddenly disallowed. For example- if X and Y are neighbours, and Y allows X to use a route via his fenced property to go to a certain place for several years, Y cannot all of a sudden disallow X to pass through his property as X has come to acquire a “right to easement” due to this practice being in place for so many years
Under Section 15 of the Indian Easement Act, 1882, it has been said that-
“where a right of way or other easement has been peaceably and openly enjoyed by any person claiming title thereto, as an easement, and as of right, without interruption, and for twenty years”
i.e. if you have allowed someone unconditional access over your property for a period of 20 years or more, they end up acquiring “ easement rights” over it, which cannot be taken away arbitrarily.
In this case, you have been allowing your uncle, i.e. your father’s brother unhindered and unconditional access for a period of 20 years to the property, without any previous legal objections . He has acquired easement rights over the property. Thus, by way of easement, they have acquired a right to use those stairs which cannot be taken away all of a sudden. Thus, it is advised that you do not seal off the stairs and restrict their access to the roof of your house.
You can instead approach the court and cite your reasons for sealing the stairs off , then depending upon the court’s decision, you can decide your future course of action.
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