Right to Private Property

Please Share with maximum friends to support the Initiative.





Context: The Supreme Court has recently held that a citizen’s right to own private property is a human right and the state cannot take possession of it without following due procedure and authority of law.

Relevance:
Prelims: Current events of national and international importance.
Mains: GS II-

  • Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions, and basic structure.

Why in News

  • The Supreme Court has recently held that a citizen’s right to own private property is a human right.
  • The case was of an 80-year-old woman whose 3.34-hectare land was forcibly taken by the Himachal Pradesh Government in 1967, for constructing a road.
  • The Court used its extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 136 and Article 142 of the Constitution to direct the government to pay the woman compensation of 1 crore rupees.

Article 142

  • It provides discretionary power to the Supreme Court as it states that the Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it.

Article 136 (Special Leave Petition)

  • It allows the Supreme Court to hear, at its discretion, an appeal against any order from any court or tribunal in the territory of India.
  • However, this does not apply to any judgment, determination, sentence or order passed or made by any court or tribunal constituted by or under any law relating to the Armed Forces.

 

Key Points Of the Judgement:
  • A citizen’s right to own private property is a human right. The state cannot take possession of it without following due procedure and authority of law.
    • The Bench referred to an earlier verdict in State of Haryana v. Mukesh Kumar case (2011) wherein it was held that the right to property is not only a constitutional or statutory right but also a human right.
  • Doctrine of Adverse Possession:
    • The state cannot trespass into the private property of a citizen and then claim ownership of the land in the name of ‘adverse possession.
    • Grabbing private land and then claiming it as its own makes the state an encroacher.
  • In 1967, when the government forcibly took over the land, ‘right to private property was still a fundamental right’ under Article 31 of the Constitution.
    • Right to Property ceased to be a fundamental right with the 44th Constitution Amendment in 1978.
    • It was made a Constitutional right under Article 300A. Article 300A requires the state to follow due procedure and authority of law to deprive a person of his or her private property.

Important observations made by the Court:

  • The state cannot trespass into the private property of a citizen and then claim ownership of the land in the name of ‘adverse possession’.
  • Grabbing private land and then claiming it as its own makes the state an encroacher.
  • In a welfare state, the right to property is a human right.
  • A welfare state cannot be permitted to take the plea of adverse possession, which allows a trespasser i.e. a person guilty of a tort, or even a crime, to gain legal title over such property for over 12 years. The State cannot be permitted to perfect its title over the land by invoking the doctrine of adverse possession to grab the property of its own citizens.
Right to Property:
  • The Constitution of India originally provided for the right to property under Articles 19 and 31.
  • Article 19 guaranteed to all citizens the right to acquire, hold and dispose of property.
  • Article 31 provided that “no person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law.” It also provided that compensation would be paid to a person whose property has been taken for public purposes.
  • The 44th Amendment of 1978 removed the right to property from the list of fundamental rights.
  • A new provision, Article 300-A, was added to the constitution, which provided that “no person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law”.

What if one is deprived of his/her properties?

  • Thus, if a legislator makes a law depriving a person of his property, there would be no obligation on the part of the state to pay anything as compensation.
  • The aggrieved person shall have no right to move the court under Article 32.
  • Thus, the right to property is no longer a fundamental right, though it is still a constitutional right. If the government appears to have acted unfairly, the action can be challenged in a court of law by aggrieved citizens.

 

Article 31:
  • Article 31 of the Constitution not only guarantees the right of private ownership
    • but also the right to enjoy and dispose of property free from restrictions other than reasonable restriction.
  • The article states that no person shall be deprived of his/her property,
    • except by authority of law.
  • It is also mentioned that compensation would be paid to a person whose property has been taken for public purposes.
  • Modification:
    • The provisions about the right to property were modified a number of times.
    • The fundamental right to property had been modified by the Parliament by many alternative Constitution Amendments.
    • Art. 31-A, inserted by the Constitution First Amendment Act, 1951 :
      • It with display effect provides for acquisition of estates of the nature referred to in various clauses, declaring that such laws shall not be deemed void on the ground that they take away any of the rights given by Article 14 or 19 of the Constitution.
  • Agrarian reform:
    • The object of taking out the acquirement of transitional interests inland from the obligation to pay compensation was to make it attainable for the government to effect agrarian reform. It was required to safeguard the interests of the tenants and improve the agricultural wealth of the country.
    • While the Congress Government for over a quarter of a century had eaten into the vitals of Art.31(2) by successive amendments, it was left for the Janata government to eliminate the right of property altogether from the list of Fundamental Rights in Part III of the Constitution of India.
    • The aggrieved person has no right to maneuver the court under Article 32. Thus, the right to property is no longer a fundamental right, though it’s still a constitutional right.
  • The 44th Amendment of 1978 :
    • It deleted the right to property from the list of fundamental rights. After that, Article 300-A was added to the Constitution that states that no one shall be deprived of his property, except by authority of law.
    • Several Amendments were made to Article 31 and eventually it was abolished.
    • There were two Articles in the 1949 Constitution that provides the correct to property, i.e. Art. 19(1) (f) and Art. 31, but both the articles were deleted from the Indian Constitution by the 44th Amendment Act.
    • Article 31 with subheading “Right to Property” has been omitted by the Constitution 44th Amendment Act, 1978. So, Article 31(1) has been shifted to article 300A as a replacement insertion in Chapter IV partially XII of the Constitution.
  • Doctrine of Eminent Domain:
    • According to the Doctrine of Eminent Domain, the state will acquire any personal property for public use; property is taken for public use and compensation is paid to the owner.
  • Final Status:
    • The Constitution makers conferred the right on every citizen of the country to acquire, hold and dispose of property and also provided ample safeguards against deprivation of the property by the Legislature by confining such deprivation for public purpose only on payment of compensation to the expropriated owner either by fixing the amount of compensation or by specifying the principles upon which it could be determined or fixed.



Please Share with maximum friends to support the Initiative.

Enquire now

Give us a call or fill in the form below and we will contact you. We endeavor to answer all inquiries within 24 hours on business days.