Res Nullius

Res Nullius

Literal Meaning

Nobody’s Property. 


Res nullius means nobody’s property or a thing which has no owner. If the owner of a property abandons property possessed by him then that property is called res nullius. Such property is as much res nullius as a property that is ownerless. Res nullius is ownerless property and it can be owned by any person. The person who takes first possession of the res nullius is the owner of that property.[1]


‘A’ abandoned his gaming consol on the road; ‘B’ found it and took it with him. Now in this case the goods were Res Nullius and thus who takes first possession of the them is to be considered as owner of those goods.

Indian Law Position

Under Indian Law the principle laid down by the maxim ‘Res Nullius’ is very well recognized.

Cases Referred

State of U.P v. Ist Additional District Judge

In the above mentioned case the principle laid down by maxim ‘Res Nullius’ was considered by the honorable Allahabad High Court. [1]

Anil Bhardwaj And Others v. The State

In this case honorable Bombay High Court considered the principle laid by maxim ‘Res Nullius’.[2]

Thayarammal v. Kankammal

In the above mentioned case the honorable Supreme Court of India provided that property dedicated for religious or charitable purpose for which the owner of the property or the donor has indicated no administration or manager, the property becomes res nullius, i.e property belonging to nobody. Such a property vests in the property itself as a juristic person.[3]

Edited by Vigneshwar Ramasubramania

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje


[1] Res Nullis, USLegal (June 19, 2019, 11:37PM),

[2] State of UP v. Ist Additional District Judge, Misc. Single No. 6612 of 1990.

[3] Anil Bhardwaj And Others vs The State, 1985 (8) DRJ 75.

[4] Thayarammal v. Kankammal, (2005) 1 SCC 457.

Vishwa Patel
I am 2 nd Year B.A LL.B (Hons.) student at Gujarat National Law University. I like to explore and write on topics of Cyber Laws, Intellectual Property Laws and Competition Laws. Further, to enhance my knowledge of Law I like to participate in moot court competitions. You can reach me at: