An Overview of the Law of Easements in India
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An Overview of the Law of Easements in India

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Easements are an important aspect of property law in India. They grant certain rights to the owner or occupier of a property to use or enjoy another person's land. The Indian Easements Act, 1882, provides the legal framework for the regulation of easements in the country.

Meaning and Nature of Easements

According to Section 4 of The Indian Easements Act, 1882, an easement is a right possessed by the owner or occupier of a property to do or continue to do something in connection with or in respect of another person's land. This right is granted to ensure the beneficial enjoyment of the owner's own property.

The concept of easements includes the right to do or continue to do something, or to prevent or continue to prevent something, in relation to another piece of land. The term "land" refers to everything permanently attached to the earth, and "beneficial enjoyment" encompasses convenience, advantage, amenity, or necessity.

In an easement, there are two parties involved: the dominant owner (the owner or occupier of the land with the right) and the servient owner (the owner of the land on which the easement is imposed). The dominant owner enjoys the easement for the benefit of their own land, while the servient owner bears the liability of the easement.

Illustrations of Easements

To better understand the concept of easements, let's consider a few illustrations:

P owns a house and has a right of way over Q's adjacent house to access the street. This is an example of a right of easement.

X voluntarily dedicates a right to the public to pass or re-pass over a certain piece of land. However, this is not considered a right of easement.

X has the right to go to Y's house to fetch water from the well for their own household. The way to the well is through Y's land. In this case, X has an easementary right to pass through Y's household.

Salmond, a renowned jurist, defines easements as legal servitudes exercised on another piece of land for the beneficial enjoyment of one's own land. It is a privilege that allows the dominant owner to perform certain acts or prevent certain acts on the servient land.

Other Examples of Easements

Easements can take various forms and serve different purposes. Some common examples include:

  1. Right of way: The right to pass through another person's land.
  2. Right to discharge rainwater: The right to drain rainwater onto another person's land.
  3. Right to sunlight: The right to receive uninterrupted sunlight on a property.

Essentials of Easements

To establish an easement, certain essential elements must be met. These include:

1. Dominant and Servient Heritage

For an easement to exist, there must be two separate properties: the dominant heritage (the property benefiting from the easement) and the servient heritage (the property on which the easement is imposed). The two properties must be distinct and separate from each other.

2. Separate Owners

The owners of the dominant and servient heritages must be different individuals or entities. A single person cannot hold both properties and establish an easement.

3. Beneficial Enjoyment

The purpose of an easement is to provide beneficial enjoyment to the dominant owner. The easement should confer express or implied benefits on the dominant heritage.

4. Positive or Negative

Easements can be either positive or negative in nature. Positive easements allow the dominant owner to perform certain acts on the servient land, while negative easements prohibit or restrict certain acts by the servient owner. However, the dominant owner cannot bind the servient owner to perform any actions.

Easements can only exist between adjacent properties. They are rights in rem, which means they are enforceable against the whole world. Easements are always attached to the dominant tenement and cannot be exercised on one's own land.

Classification of Easements

Section 5 of The Indian Easements Act, 1882, classifies easements into different categories:

Continuous or Discontinuous

Continuous easements can be enjoyed without any human intervention and add a special quality to the property. There is no need for human acts to continue the enjoyment. On the other hand, discontinuous easements require human acts on the servient heritage for their enjoyment.

Apparent or Non-Apparent

An apparent easement is visible and can be observed through a careful examination or reasonable foresight. It is also known as an express easement. Non-apparent easements, on the other hand, are not visible and do not have a permanent sign. They are known as invisible easements.

Limitations or Conditions of Easements

Easements can be subject to certain limitations or conditions. Section 6 of the Act specifies these conditions, which may include:

  1. The easement may be permanent or for a limited term.
  2. The easement may be subject to periodical interruptions.
  3. The easement may be exercisable at a particular place, between certain hours, or for a specific purpose.
  4. The easement may become void or voidable upon the occurrence of an event or the non-performance of an act.

Restrictive Easements

Section 7 of The Indian Easements Act, 1882, states that easements can be restrictive of certain rights. These include:

  1. Exclusive right to enjoy: The servient owner is restricted from enjoying certain rights over their property.
  2. Right to advantages arising out of the situation: The servient owner is restricted from benefiting from certain advantages related to their property.

Profit a Prendre

The concept of profit a prendre is an integral part of the definition of easements under The Indian Easements Act, 1882. Profit a prendre refers to the right to take something from another person's land for personal benefit. Examples include the right to fish in someone else's pond or the right to collect fruits from someone else's trees during a specific season.

Profit a prendre is exercised on the land appurtenant to the dominant heritage, meaning there must be two heritages: the dominant and the servient. The dominant owner exercises this right on the property of the servient owner for the more beneficial enjoyment of their own land.

Modes of Acquisition of Easements

Easements can be acquired through different modes, as outlined in The Indian Easements Act, 1882:

Express Grant

An easement can be acquired through an express grant. This involves the explicit inclusion of the right of easement in a deed of sale, mortgage, or any other form of transfer. The grantor must clearly express their intention to grant such a right.

Implied Circumstances

Easements can also be acquired in implied circumstances, which include:

  1. Easement of Necessity: When the owner or occupier of a property cannot use their property without exercising the right of easement over the servient heritage. This arises out of absolute necessity and convenience.
  2. Quasi Easements: In cases where common properties are converted into tenements through various forms of transfer such as sale, mortgage, or partition, easements can be implied. This occurs when the properties are divided, and certain rights are inherent in the new tenements.

Prescriptive Easements

Prescriptive easements can be acquired through the continuous, open, and uninterrupted enjoyment of a right for a specified period. The requirements for acquiring a prescriptive easement include:

  1. Definite and certain right
  2. Independent enjoyment without any agreement with the servient owner
  3. Open, peaceful, and uninterrupted enjoyment for a continuous period of 20 years (30 years for government land)

Customary Easements

Easements can also be acquired through local customs. Customary easements arise from specific customs prevalent in a particular city or town. They include rights such as the burial of the dead in a particular area or riparian rights to use water.

Extinction of Easements

Easements can be extinguished in various ways, as specified in Sections 37 to 47 of The Indian Easements Act, 1882. Some of the modes of extinction include:

  1. Dissolution of Servient Owner's Right: When the servient owner ceases to have any right in the servient tenement, the easement ceases to exist as well.
  2. Expiry of Time or Happening of an Event: When an easement is acquired on certain conditions, limitations, or for a specific period, it can be extinguished upon the fulfillment of those conditions or the expiry of the time period.
  3. Extinction by Release: When the owner of the dominant heritage releases the easement to the servient owner, the right ceases to exist.
  4. Termination of Necessity: When the necessity that gave rise to the easement ceases to exist, the easement also terminates.
  5. Useless Easements: Easements that are no longer useful or incapable of being beneficial under any circumstances come to an end.
  6. Permanent Change in the Dominant Heritage: When the nature of the dominant heritage changes permanently, and the burden on the servient tenement increases, the easement ceases to exist.
  7. Extinction by Destruction of Either Heritage: When either the dominant or servient heritage is destroyed, the easement ends due to the lack of two existing properties.
  8. Unity by Ownership: When one person becomes the owner of both the dominant and servient heritages, the easement terminates.

Suspension of Easements

Under Section 49 of The Indian Easements Act, 1882, easements can be suspended under certain circumstances:

  1. When the dominant owner becomes entitled to the possession of the servient heritage for a limited interest.
  2. When the servient owner becomes entitled to the possession of the dominant heritage for a limited interest.

In both cases, when the same person becomes the owner of both the dominant and servient heritages, the easement is suspended.

Revival of Easements

Section 51 of the Act provides for the revival of suspended or extinguished easements under certain circumstances. Easements can be revived when:

  1. An easement is extinguished by the destruction of either of the heritages, and the heritage is restored or rebuilt within a certain period of time.
  2. In the case of unity of ownership, if the unity breaks due to some reason, the easement can be revived. Additionally, an order from a competent court can also revive an easement.


Licenses are another aspect of property law that needs to be distinguished from easements. According to Section 52 of The Indian Easements Act, 1882, a license grants a person the right to do or continue to do something on another person's immovable property. However, a license does not amount to an easementary right or the creation of an interest in the property.

Essentials of Licenses

Licenses are permissions granted by one person (the grantor) to another person (the licensee) to perform certain acts on the grantor's property. Key essentials of licenses include:

  1. Permission granted: A license arises out of permission given by the grantor.
  2. Legalizes an act: A license legalizes an act that would otherwise be unlawful without the grantor's permission.
  3. Revocable: Licenses are revocable by the grantor.
  4. Applicable to immovable property: Licenses are always in respect of immovable property.
  5. Right in personam: Licenses are rights in personam, meaning they are enforceable against specific individuals.

Revocation of Licenses

Licenses can be revoked under certain circumstances, as outlined in The Indian Easements Act, 1882. The revocation of licenses can occur in the following ways:

  1. Cessation of Grantor's Interest: When the grantor ceases to have any interest in the property for which the license was granted, the license is revoked.
  2. Express or Implied Release: If the licensee releases the license or the grantor implies its release, the license is revoked.
  3. Conditions or Limitations: If a license is subject to certain conditions or limitations, such as the non-performance of a specific act, the license may become void upon the occurrence of such events.
  4. Destruction of Property: If the property for which the license was granted is destroyed, the license is revoked.
  5. Licensee Becomes the Owner: If the licensee becomes the owner of the property for which the license was granted, the license ceases to exist.
  6. Non-Use of License: If the licensee does not use the license for a continuous period of 20 years, the license is revoked.

Transferable Licenses

According to Section 56 of The Indian Easements Act, 1882, licenses can be transferable under certain conditions. For example, a license to attend a place of public entertainment may be transferred by the licensee. However, the general rule is that licenses cannot be transferred. If a licensee transfers a license, the transferee becomes a trespasser and may be ejected.

Irrevocable Licenses

Section 60 of The Indian Easements Act, 1882, provides for the concept of irrevocable licenses. An irrevocable license is one that cannot be revoked. If a license is coupled with a transfer of property and the transfer is in force, it becomes irrevocable, subject to any agreement between the parties. However, the power to revoke the license can be reserved.

A license coupled with an interest in land is binding and cannot be revoked. Similarly, a license coupled with profit a prendre, such as the right to excavate earth or cut timber, is irrevocable. Additionally, if the licensee has incurred expenses in executing permanent work, the license cannot be revoked.


The Law of Easements in India provides the legal framework for the regulation of easements. Easements grant certain rights to property owners for the beneficial enjoyment of their land. They are classified based on their nature and can be acquired through various means.

Easements have essential elements that must be met, including the existence of dominant and servient heritages, separate owners, beneficial enjoyment, and positive or negative rights. Licenses, on the other hand, are permissions granted by property owners to perform certain acts on their property.

Easements can be extinguished or suspended under specific circumstances, and their revival is subject to certain conditions. Licenses can be revoked, transferred, or made irrevocable depending on the circumstances.

Understanding the Law of Easements is crucial for property owners and individuals dealing with property rights in India. It ensures clarity and protection of rights in relation to the use and enjoyment of land.

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