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Aakritu   07 March 2022

Legal maxim

What is the scope of the maxim of Bona Vacantia?


 1 Replies

Aarushi   07 March 2022

The maxim of Bona Vacantia is a doctrine of common law, according to which any property which does not have any owner shall have the head of the state as its owner. The term is a Latin one which means ownerless or vacant goods. In a case where a property is found to have no one as its owner, the property goes in the hands of the government. Article 296 of the Indian Constitution also deals with this maxim and states that any property which was not in possession of His Majesty or the Ruler of and Indian State when this constitution came into force and was ownerless, shall be taken care of by the State, if said property lies in the State or by the Union, in any other case. This could happen in a lot of cases, such as when the owner dies without an heir (this can be avoided if there is a will stating the new owner), or when the owner abandons their property, or when the owner forgets about their property, or when a company dissolves and the assets have to be distributed. The term “property” is used here in a very comprehensive manner. It does not only mean tangible property; it means all the interests that a person may have.

Narendra Bahadur Tandon v. Shankar Lal

In this case, a company that had been dissolved had a property on lease on its name. The Supreme Court held that since the property had no legal heir now due to the dissolution of the company, it would be considered to belong to the Government.

Biswanath Khan & Ors. v. Prafulla Kumar Khan

In this case, a company which was a thika tenant had been dissolved. The Court followed the precedent of Narendra Bahadur Tandon v. Shankar Lal and held that, like ownership, tenancy is also a property, and thus when a company who was a tenant dissolves, the tenancy goes to the Government.

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