What are Mesne Profits?

Supreet Kaur

Ownership of any property whether movable or immovable carries the connotation of right over that property to the exclusion of others. Ownership implies (i) the right to possess (ii) the right to use (iii) the right to manage (iv) the right to the capital (v) the right to the income.[1]

The owner of a thing has the right to fruits and income of the thing. In case he is deprived of this right, he can claim damages against the person who obstructs the true owner to get the profits from his property. Here comes the notion of mesne profits.

Mesne Profits generally implies compensation to the true owner for the loss caused to him during wrongful possession. It is a claim against the wrongful possessor by the true owner.

STATUTORY PROVISION RELATED TO MESNE PROFIT IN INDIA:

Section 2(12) of Code of Civil Procedure defines Mesne Profits

Mesne profits of property means “those profits which the person is wrongful possession of such property actually received or might with ordinary diligence have received there from together with interest on such profits but shall not include profits due to improvements made by the person in wrongful possession”.

Who can claim: The true owner of the property can bring a suit to recover mesne profits. It is generally accompanied by suit for obtaining possession. It can be claimed by the person who is in actual possession of the property.

Against whom: Mesne Profits are claimed against the person in wrongful possession. For example, a tenant who refuses to evict the house after expiry of lease period. Here the possession becomes wrongful or illegal.

Claimed for : Mesne Profits are always available on immovable property.

Quantum of Profits: According to Section 2(12) , the Profits means the profits;

  1. Actually received Or
  2. Might have been received with ordinary diligence.

For example- X , a person in wrongful possession of a property, gives the property on rent and earn Rs 10,000 in 6 months. Now the true owner will sue him for 10,000 i.e. the amount actually received.

Now for instance, X only earn Rs 5000 , in fact , a person with ordinary diligence would have earned Rs 10,000. X does this either intentionally or negligently, in case he is unaware of the prevailing rent rate. Now the true owner can claim Rs 10000 although X has actually received 5000 only.

So the amount of Mesne Profits is only what the defendant has earned or might have earned with ordinary diligence. It doesn’t include what the plaintiff has lost. [2]

While determining the amount various factors are taken into consideration. It varies from case to case . Ordinary the rental value of property is the useful determinant while assessing the amount of profits. But it is no longer acceptable now.

Moreover, the expenditure by defendant on the land need to be deducted first and then the amount is calculated.

In Dakshina v. Saroda[3] : The court held that while awarding mesne profits, the court may allow deductions to be made from gross profits of defendant in wrongful possession of property such as land revenue, rent, cesses, cost of cultivation, charges incurred for collecting rent etc.

Interest on profits: Mesne Profits includes interest on such profits also. The code doesn’t specify any interest rate so it is left to discretion of courts. Generally it is not more than 6% per annum.

In N. Darsjee v. Tirupati Devasthanam[4] S.C. observed that interest in an integral part of mesne profits so it is to be allowed in computation of mesne profits itself.

What is not included in Mesne Profits: According to Section 2(12) , the Profits earned by the person in wrongful possession doesn’t include the profits which he received after doing some improvements in the property.

For example: A person in wrongful possession of a vacant land, builds house on such land and give it on rent, the income earned by way of rent doesn’t include Mesne Profits. Also the person in wrongful possession can’t claim the expenses incurred by him on improvements.

Limitation period for filing suit of mesne profits: The period of limitation for a suit for the profits of immovable property belonging to the plaintiff which have been wrongfully received by the defendant is three years and the time of limitation begins to run when the profits are received.

  1. Jurisprudence by Nomita Aggarwal
  2. P.L.Kapur c. Jia Rani AIR 1973 Del 186.
  3. ILR 1894 21 Cal 142
  4. AIR 1965 SC 1213