Right to property: India

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A human right: SC

The Times of India, Dec 05 2015

AmitAnand Choudhary

Right to property is part of human rights: SC

The Supreme Court said that right to property was part of human rights and landowners had a right to fair compensation for their plots acquired by the government. “The right to property having been elevated to the status of human rights, it is inherent in every individual, and thus has to be venerably acknowledged and can, by no means, be belittled or trivialized by adopting an unconcerned and nonchalant disposition by anyone, far less the State, after compulsorily acquiring his land by invok ing an expropriatory legislative mechanism,“ a bench of Justices V Gopala Gowda and Amitava Roy said.

The ruling in a case arising from the demand by a group of farmers in Rajasthan for fair compensation against land acquired from them by the government marks a step towards elevation of the right to property . Recognized as a fundamental right by the framers of the Constitution, right to property was done away with by the 44th amendment to the Constitution in 1978, in what reflected the ethos which had reigned supreme until the 1980s. Right to property is now recognised as a con stitutional right by Article 300A, which provides that “no person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law“.

The constitutional amendment only completed the process which began in the 1960s and which saw the government seeking to chip away at right to property for the professed objective of creation of an egalitarian society .

On Friday , however, the wheel of jurisprudence appeared to be coming full circle when Supreme Court Justices V Gopala Gowda and Amitava Roy , while stressing the constitutional obligation of the government to compensate landowners, called right to property a “prized privilege“.

The court said it was the government's constitutional obligation to ensure that the landowner was adequately compensated. It said other rights became illusory in the absence of right to property and the state must ensure it was protected.

“Though earlier, human rights existed to the claim of individuals' right to health, livelihood, shelter and employment etc, these have started gaining a multifaceted approach, so much so that property rights have become integrated within the definition of human rights,“ the bench said.

The bench pulled up Rajasthan government for not fulfilling its promise of fair compensation to landowners whose properties were acquired by the state in 2001. The state had assured landowners allotment of 15% developed land near the acquired land but it resiled from the promise and allotted them undeveloped land in a far off place.

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