Q. 9. ‘Ownership is a right indefinite in point of user, unrestricted in point of disposition and unlimited in point of duration.’—Austin. Explain.
Ans. The above definition of Austin cannot be regarded as exact. According to Austin ownership has the following three elements ;
1. Indefinite in point of user.
2. Unrestricted in point of disposition.
3. Unlimited in point of duration.
1. Indefinite in point of user.—This implies that the owner of a thing is free to use or even misuse it in any manner he likes. The use of the word ‘indefinite has a special significance because the use of land by the owner can be restricted 1 y agreements or by operation of law. Firstly, the right of user of an owner is not absolute ; it is subject to various restric-tions. At common law everyone is bound to use his property in such a way as not to harm others in their just right e.g., one should not so use his land as to cause nuisance to his neighbours. Encumbrances also may restrict the owners’s right of user e.g., so long as a lease subsists, the owner cannot take the yield of the property. But no such restriction on the right of user would negative the existence of ownership in him rights may be restricted by agreement also.
2. Unrestricted in point of disposition.—Austin says that an owner of a thing has unrestricted right to dispose it of in a way he likes. Thus he regards right of alienation as a necessary incident of ownership. But to say that an owner has an unrestricted right of disposition is not correct. An owner’s right of disposition need not be quite unrestricted. A minor can own properties though he cannot alienate them, Hindu families and Marnmakattayam Tanvads do own properties though their powers of alienation are limited to occasions of legal necessities. Government may acquire lands for public purposes irrespective of the owner’s dissent as if the right superior of disposal is in the Government and not in the owner.
3. Unlimited in point of duration.—However, to say that ownership is unlimited in point of duration is also not correct. An owner’s right is not quite unlimited in point of duration, it may end with his solvency or it may be terminated by Government compulsorily acquiring the land for them-selves. This apart Government is empowered to pass any law and at any time so as to restrict a person from exercising his right of ownership.