The word property means a tangible or intangible thing over which one has ownership rights. It can be owned by an individual or group of individuals. It is the exclusive right of a person or persons over a thing. Property has various economic, social and legal implications arising from it. It consists of all animate and inanimate which a person possesses. It also includes all the legal rights resulting from the property of a person. Hence the term property is a vast concept which is governed by different laws. An owner of a property has the right to transfer the property, that is he can sell, mortgage, lease or transfer his property in any other way as he desires. The property has been derived from the Latin word ‘properietate’ which means a thing that is owned.
The term ‘immovable property’ has not been defined under the Transfer of Property Act 1882. However, section 3 of this Act merely lays down the meaning of immovable property. Immovable property means a property which does not include standing timber, growing crops (that is in form of vegetable produce which have separate existence except for their produce) or grass. Hence the meaning is an exclusive definition. In Babu Lal v. Bhawani Das and Ors[i], the court held that section 3(25) of the General Clauses Act which defines immovable property can be applied to Transfer of Property Act 1882.
Under the General Clauses Act immovable property is defined as one which includes land, benefits arising out of the land (eg. Right to catch fish), things attached to the land (like trees and shrubs having no independent use except for produce for example mango trees, orange trees) or things that are permanently fastened to anything that is attached to the earth (like windows, doors, walls etc.). Additionally, the court held that the right of way, right to collect rent, a Hindu widow’s life interest of the income of the husband’s property, a factory, furniture, fixtures, windows, doors, office of a hereditary priest of the temple etc. are all immovable property.
In Sukry Kurdepa v. Goondakull,[ii] the court explained the meaning of the term movability. It held that “when a thing cannot change its place without injury to the quality of which it is, what it is, it is said to be immovable.” Therefore trees will be immovable as long as they are attached to the earth. When these trees as severed from the earth they become movable property. Standing timber are trees like teak, neem, bamboo etc. which are used for building houses, ships etc When such trees are severed from the earth they can be sold and used for multiple purposes. Trees such as orange trees, mango trees cannot be called as movable as they are grown for enjoying the fruits and not utilizing them as timber. Only those trees which can be utilized as timber are termed as immovable. Growing crops such as wheat, rice, sugarcane etc. are also movable as they are grown to enjoy their final produce. These crops have no value when they are attached to the earth. Similarly, grass can only be used as fodder for animals. They do not have any value when they are attached to the earth.
The term movable property has not been defined in the Transfer of Property Act 1882. However, in general sense, movable property is a property which can be shifted or moved from one place to another without harm to its surroundings. The term movable property has been defined in other statutes. The General Clauses Act defines movable property as property of every description except immovable property. Further, the Registration Act defines movable property as property of every kind except immovable property but including standing timber, growing crops and grass. Hence movable property is a property which is neither land nor permanently fastened or attached to the land or building, either directly or indirectlyby attaching it to real property.
For example royalty, Government promissory notes, computers, jewellery, paintings, hereditary allowances etc. are movable properties.
In the case of Mohamed Ibrahim v. Northern Circars Fibre Trading Company,[iii]the Court held that if a machinery is installed on a cement platform and attached to iron pillars fixed in the ground, they were held as immovable property. To find out if a property of a given description is movable or immovable it is essential to find out its mode of annexation of the thing and purpose of such annexation.
Tangible property and Intangible property
Tangible properties are the touchable and movable assets of a person or group of persons. This property can be felt, touched, perceived by senses and moved from one place to another. It is not attached to any real property or land. [iv]For example furniture, computer, jewellery, cupboard, goods etc.
Intangible property is personal property. It cannot be moved from one place to another or touched or felt. It has no physical presence. Intangible property can be in the form of creations of human intellect known as intellectual property, like trademarks, copyrights, patents. They are neither tangible nor visible.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is corporeal and incorporeal property?
Corporeal property means the right of ownership over a thing. This property can be felt and touched that is, it is tangible and visible. For example furniture, car, land, trees etc.
Corporeal property can be further divided into immovable property and movable property; real and personal property.
Incorporeal property is also called as intellectual property. It cannot be touched or seen that is it is intangible property. For example, trademarks, copyrights, patents etc.
What is the classification of types of property?
Property can be classified into two types corporeal and incorporeal property. Further corporeal property can be classified as –
- Movable and immovable property
- Real and personal property
Edited by Sakshi Agarwal
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
[i] AIR 1912
[ii](1872) 6 Mad 71
[iii] A.I.R. 1944 Mad. 492
[iv]Bhagwati Dan Charan,Definition and concept of property, Legal services India