Supreme Court

Supreme Court: Deciding a matter dealing with possession of opium by the appellant, the bench of Dipak Misra and S.A. Bobde, JJ interpreted the term ‘possession’ and said that when one conceives of possession, it appears in the strict sense that the concept of possession is basically connected to “actus of physical control and custody”, however, attributing this meaning in the strict sense would be understanding the factum of possession in a narrow sense. Stating that there is a degree of flexibility in the use of the said term and that is why the word possession can be usefully defined and understood with reference to the contextual purpose for the said expression, it was further held that the term “possession” consists of two elements. First, it refers to the corpus or the physical control and the second, it refers to the animus or intent which has reference to exercise of the said control.

Noting that over the years, courts have refrained from adopting a doctrinaire approach towards defining possession, the Court said that since a functional and flexible approach in defining and understanding the possession as a concept is acceptable and thereby emphasis has been laid on different possessory rights according to the commands and justice of the social policy, hence, the word “possession” in the context of any enactment would depend upon the object and purpose of the enactment and an appropriate meaning has to be assigned to the word to effectuate the said object.

Applying this interpretation to the case at hand, the Court said that the legislature while enacting the said law was absolutely aware of the said element and that the word “possession” refers to a mental state as is noticeable from the language employed in Section 35 of the NDPS Act. It was further held that conscious or mental state of possession is necessary and that is the reason for enacting Section 35 of the NDPS Act. Mohan Lal v. State of Rajasthan, 2015 SCC OnLine SC 357, decided on 17.04.2015

Supreme Court

SUPREME COURT: In one of the prominent decisions, the Court while dealing with a Special Leave Petition regarding the possession of the land in question by the Government of Assam under the  Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976 decided in favour of State and ruled that despite the repeal of  the Principal Act of 1976 by the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Repeal Act, 1999, the possession that has been taken over by the State Government under the Principal Act will not be affected

The main issue raised by the appellant was that the possession of the declared entire surplus land was taken over by the Revenue Authority. Government of Assam on 27.11.2003 allotted a certain extent of land to Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) for construction of an office building for itself and  in the meanwhile the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Repeal Act, 1999 was notified which came into force in the State of Assam w.e.f. 06.08.2003. The respondents filed a petition before the Single Judge Bench of the Assam High Court challenging the possession of the allotted land which was handed over to GMDA. The Single Judge bench however dismissed the petition but subsequently it was allowed by the Division Bench of the same court and the possession of the disputed land to the given to the respondents.

Affirming the judgment given by the Single Judge Bench, the Court set aside the judgment of the division Bench of the High Court stating that, according Section 3(b) of  the Repeal Act of 1999 which states that the repeal of the principal Act shall not affect the vesting of any vacant land under Section 10(3) the possession of which has been taken over by the State Government. Mr.P.K. Goswamy, appearing for the respondents argued that actual physical possession must be proved to have been taken over by the State Government and that it did not notify before taking over the possession. On this the court said that there was no prominent document to prove the actual possession and notifying before taking the possession was mere a academic exercise in this case. State of Assam v. Bhaskar Jyoti Sarma, 2014 SCC OnLine SC 946, Decided on 27/11/2014