Concepts of Law: Ownership for RAS/RTS Mains Examination

The idea of ownership developed by slow degrees with the growth of civilization. So long as the people were wandering from place to place and had no settled place of residence, they had no sense of ownership. The idea began to grow when they started planting trees, cultivating land, building their homes. The transition from a pastoral to an agricultrual economy helped the development of the idea of ownership.
Ownership rests largely on prohibitions exercised towards others in respect of the thing. An owner has the right to use the thing either generally or for a specific purpose, either for an indefinite period or for a limited time. The right of the owner imposes duties on others. In this sense it is a personal right produced by the regulation of inter-personal relations. If the legal system does not recognise the duties of others not to interfere with the rights of the owner then it cannot be said that a person has the right of ownership.
Ownership denotes the relation between a person and an objective forming the subject matter of his/her ownership. The normal case of ownership can be expected to exhibit the incidents as follows:

  • the owner will have a right to possess the thing which s/he owns.
  • the owner normally has the right to use and enjoy the thing owned.
  • the owner has the right to consume, destroy or alienate the thing.
  • ownership has the characteristics of being indeterminate in duration.
  • ownership has a residuary character.

Various Concepts of Ownership are:-
Salmond on Ownership:-Ownership denotes the relationship between a person and an object forming the subject-matter of his ownership. It consists in a complex of rights, all of which are rights in rem, being good against the entire world and not merely against specific persons[4].

Austin’s Concept of Ownership:-Ownership or Property may be described accurately enough, in the following manner: ‘the right to use or deal with some given subject, in a manner, or to an extent, which, though is not unlimited, is indefinite’.

Dias on Ownership:-After referring to the views of Salmond and other Jurists, Dias came to the conclusion that a person is owner of a thing when his interest will outlast the interests of other persons in the same thing. This is substantially the conclusion reached by many modern writers, who have variously described ownership as the ‘residuary’, the ‘ultimate’, or ‘the most enduring interest’.

Types of Ownership:-

Corporeal Ownership :-Corporeal Ownership signifies ownership in a physical object.Corporeal things are things which can be perceived by senses.
Incorporeal Ownership
Sole Ownership :-When an individual owns, it is sole ownership
Co-Ownership :-When there is more than one person who owns the property
Trust Ownership
Beneficial Ownership
Legal Ownership
Equitable Ownership
Vested Ownership
Contingent Ownership
Absolute Ownership
Limited Ownership

Indian concept of ownership
The scope of the right of swamitva (ownership) of property as comprising of title to the property with bhukti or bhoga (possession) or if not in possession the right to be in or to get possession of the property, as also right for possession with title but with limited rights, or even with out any right, are covered by specific persons in the smritis[18]. According to jurists, ownership is possession coupled with a legitimate title[19].
In Bramha Puran seven modes of acquisition of title are given. There it has been also said that the property obtained at partition or by inheritance or by royal grant is recognized as someone’s real property. Therefore there is no dispute about the ownership in this case. It was said that acquisition of property by illegitimate means did not confer right of ownership.
In ancient time there were two types of ownership, depending upon the power to sale. These are, a) absolute ownership, b) limited ownership. In case of absolute ownership they had right to sale the property because the person has acquired absolute title over it. But in case of limited ownership, the person on possession of the property did not have absolute right to sale or dispose of the property, e.g. mortgage.
In ancient Indian concept the property was considered to be of two kind, Jangama (movable) and sthavara (immovable). In the laws relating to the purchase and sale both are considered to be Panya (saleable property).