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Distinction between Movable and Immovable Property under TPA

Distinction between Movable and Immovable Property


Holloway J., in an old Madras case, explained the distinction between movable and immovable property: “Movability may be defined to be a capacity in a thing of suffering alteration of the relation of place.

Immovability is incapability for such alteration. If, however, a thing cannot change its place without injury to the quality by virtue of which it is, what it is, it is immovable.”

Immovable Property

Immovable property encompasses land, its inherent benefits, and entities affixed to the earth, as per Section 3 of the General Clauses Act. A crucial aspect determining immovability is attachment: if an object is fixed to the land, even slightly or by external force causing it to penetrate the earth, it is classified as immovable.

Further, if the annexation aims to provide a lasting advantage to the land, it qualifies as immovable property. Examples include rights associated with land like hereditary allowances, easements, and profits, along with tangible entities like factories. Notably, any transfer of immovable property mandates registration of the relevant document.

Movable Property

Conversely, movable property encompasses items such as stocks, crops, and objects attached to the land but agreed to be separated before sale, as per Section 2 of the Sale of Goods Act. The presumption leans towards movability if an object rests on the land solely by its own weight, unless proven otherwise.

Importantly, if the purpose of attachment is solely to enjoy the object itself, it qualifies as movable property, even if affixed to the land. Examples include intangible rights like royalties, government promissory notes, and tangible assets like standing timber and growing crops. Notably, the transfer of movable property does not necessitate registration.

Distinction between Movable and Immovable 

Immovable Property

Movable Property

It includes land, benefits to arise out of land, and things attached to the earth (Sec.3 of General Clauses Act). 

It includes stocks and shares, growing crops, grass, and things attached to or forming part of the land, and which are agreed to be severed before sale, or under the contract of sale (Sec.2 of Sale ofGoods Act). 

If The thing is fixed to the land even slightly or it is caused to go deeper in the earth by external agency, then it is deemed to be immovable property. 

If the thing is resting on the land merely on its own weight, the presumption is that it is movable property, unless the contrary is proved.

If The purpose of annexation of a thing is to confer a permanent benefit to the land to which it is attached, then it is immovable property.

If the purpose was only to enjoy the thing itself, then it is movable property even though it is fixed in the land. 

Transfer of immovable property requires registration of the document

No registration is required to transfer a movable property. 

Examples: Benefits to arise out of land such as hereditary allowances, right of way, ferries and fisheries, right to collect rent and profits of immovable property; a mortgage-debt; right to cut grass for one year; a factory; etc.

 Examples: Right of worship; royalty; a decree for sale of immovable property; a decree for arrears of rent; Government promissory notes; standing timber, growing crops and grass. 

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