“The right of ownership is a conception easy to understand but difficult to define with exactitude” is the statement based on the postulates of Keeton. It is very important to differentiate between the different concepts arising out from the same action. Ex- Possession, ownership. According to Keeton, we can easily understand the conceptual theory of ownership but it is difficult to define the immaculacy of Ownership. The statement in question is concerned about the arguments between the views that, ownership is a relation between individual and object of ownership to that of individual and rights on that object.
As per Austin, the term ownership has been defined as “ownership means a right which avails against everyone who is subject to the law conferring a right to put a thing to the user of infinite nature.” Full ownership is defined as“a right indefinite in point of disposition and unlimited in point of duration”. It is “right in rem” which is available against the whole world.
According to Austin’s definition, there are three elements or attributes of ownership:
1. Indefinite user
This states that in case of complete ownership there can be a restriction imposed only by the operation of law. But there are 2 basic principles.
a. Use your own property and not that of others.
b. The things constructed on your property for the injury of others are considered as unlawful.
2. Unrestricted disposition
Though it is stated that the disposition is without any restriction, there will be a reasonable restriction imposed.
3. Unlimited duration
The ownership remains with a person until the destruction of such property.
According to Holland, “ownership is a plenary control over object”.
Salmond has defined it in the following words, “ownership is in its most comprehensive signification, denotes the relation between a person and that right is vested in him.” According to him “Every right is owned, and nothing can be owned except a right”. It is the relation between a person and the right vested in him.
According to HIBBERT ownership consists of four kinds of rights: –
1. Right to use of a thing;
2. Right to exclude others from using the thing;
3. Disposing of the thing; and
4. Right to destroy it.
These views are contradictory to English laws which prohibit any person from destroying any property.
ESSENTIALS OF OWNERSHIP
From various definitions given by eminent jurists, we could sum up the following to be the essentials of ownership.
It is indefinite in point of the user.
It is unrestricted in terms of disposition.
Right to possess the things which he owns.
SUBJECT MATTER OF OWNERSHIP
The right to manage
The right to posses
The right to capital
The right to income.
CLASSIFICATION OF OWNERSHIP
Corporeal and incorporeal ownership: corporeal ownership is the ownership of a material object (for example house) and incorporeal ownership is the ownership of a right (for example intellectual property)
Sole ownership and co-ownership: when a property is owned by an individual it is called as sole ownership, whereas when it is owned by more than one person, it is called as co-ownership. Co-ownership can be converted as sole ownership by partition.
Legal and equitable ownership: legal ownership is recognized by the common law, while inequitable from that of the rule of equity. Example- Landlord is the legal owner and tenant is the equitable owner.
Vested and contingent ownership: if the owner has a perfect title over the future property, then it is called as vested ownership and it is absolute ownership, if he has an imperfect title then it is called as contingent ownership. Example- X transfer the property to Y, which will be effective on the death of X. In this case, Y is the Vested owner.
In Sashi Kantha v. Pramodechandrav, the Calcutta Hugh Court has pointed out the distinction between this vested and contingent ownership. It was held that in “vested ownership” there is the immediate right of present enjoyment but if the right of enjoyment is made to depend upon some event or condition, which may or may not happen then it is contingent ownership.
Trust and Beneficial Ownership: in trust ownership, two persons own property at the same time. The relationship between them is such one is under an obligation to use his ownership for the benefit of the other. The former is called the trustee and his ownership is trust ownership. The latter is called the beneficiary and his ownership is called beneficial ownership.
Acquisition of Ownership
(1) Original Mode
The original model is the result of some independence personal act of the acquire himself. The mode of acquisition maybe three kinds
Absolute: when ownership is acquired by over previously ownerless object.
Extinction: which is where there is the extinction of previous ownership by an independence adverse act on the part of the acquiring. This is how the right of easement is acquiring after the passage of time prescribed by law.
Accessory: that is when requisition of ownership is the result of accession. For example, if three fruits, the produce belongs to the owner unless he has parted with to the same. When ownership is derived from the previous version of law then it is called derivate acquisition. That is derived mode takes place from the title of the prior owner. It is derived either by purchase, exchange, will, gift etc.
(2) Derivative mode
When ownership is derived from a previous owner, it is called derivation acquisition. It is derived either by purchase, exchange, will, gift, etc.
There is no uniqueness or commonness in the views of different jurists. Ownership is a bundle of rights. Ownership involves the absolute rights and legitimate claim to an object by the owner. But the absoluteness in right cannot be granted for sure as there are many instances suggesting that it can be taken back by government in case of national interest. Ownership and possession are considered now as the right dissipating from property to an individual. Though in the initial stages the terms ownership and possession were used interchangeably, later with the civilization they evolved as two distinct terms, wherein ownership means that holding the title of the property, while possession means that the physical control over a property.