Land Acquisition

Land Acquisition

Context: In a landmark verdict aimed at safeguarding the interests of landowners from government acquisition, the Supreme Court of India has ruled that all acquisitions must adhere to the principles outlined in Article 300A. The Court invalidated the decision of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation to acquire private land for constructing a public park, citing the absence of legal authorization for such acquisition, rendering it illegal.

The Right to Property in India: 

Before 44th Constitutional Amendment (1978)

Constitutional Provisions Rights Granted

- Part III of the Indian Constitution (Fundamental Rights) included Article 19 (1) (f) and Article 31.
 - Indian residents were given the right to purchase, possess, and dispose of their property under Article 19(1)(f).
- Article 31 safeguarded the right against being deprived of one’s property. The right was absolute and could not be denied in any circumstance.


- Provisions limited the state’s ability to acquire any movable property in the public interest because the right to property was a fundamental right.

After 44th Constitutional Amendment

- Abolished Article 19 (1) (f) and Article 31, replacing it with a modified version as Article 300-A.
- Changed the nature of the right to property from a fundamental right to a legal/constitutional right.

Article 300-A

- States that “no person shall be deprived of his property except by authority of law”.
- Gives the government authority to seize someone else’s property for the benefit of the general welfare

Court Interpretations - 

- Madhya Pradesh HC (2022): Clarified that property acquisition law needed to be legitimate and state’s acquisition of land had to be for the benefit of the public.
- Vidya Devi v. State of Himachal Pradesh (2022): Ruled that government authorities cannot seize property without following necessary legal process, even in a welfare state.
- Vimlaben Ajitbhai Patel vs. Vatslaben Ashokbhai Patel: Although no longer a fundamental right, right to property is still a human right

Observation made by Supreme Court:

• Nature of Right to Property:
o Under the current constitutional scheme, the right to property is protected as a constitutional right and has even been interpreted to be a human right.

• Seven Basic Rights under Article 300A**:

1. Right to Notice: The duty of the State to inform the owners that it intends to acquire their property.
2. Right to Be Heard: The duty of the State to hear objections raised by the landowners.
3. Right to a Reasoned Decision: The duty of the State to inform its decision on acquisition.
4. Acquisition Only for Public Purpose: The duty of the State to demonstrate that acquisition is for a public cause.
5. Right to Fair Compensation: The duty of the State to provide restitution and rehabilitation, ensuring fair compensation.
6. Right to an Efficient Conduct: The duty of the State to conduct the process of acquisition efficiently and within prescribed timelines.
7. Right of Conclusion: The final conclusion of the proceedings.

• Procedural Justice - Mandate of Article 300A:

o The existence of and adherence to procedural safeguards is crucial for the protection of the right to property as they ensure fairness, transparency, natural justice, and non-arbitrary exercise of power in the process of acquisition.

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