Right to Property

Right to Property

Context: The recent Supreme Court decision in the Kolkata Municipal Corporation case has significantly impacted the interpretation of the right to property (Article 300 A) in India. The case emphasizes fair treatment for property owners and ensures they are not unfairly deprived.

Article 300 A

• SC held that seven aspects are protected under Article  300 A, including right to:
• To notice and to be heard;
• To reasoned decision, duty to acquire only for public purpose, restitution or fair compensation;
• To an efficient and expeditious process and the right of conclusion.
• SC also held that the lack of even one aspect would make the law vulnerable to being challenged.

Background and Important Facts

• Property rights in India went from fundamental to constitutional rights.
• In the Bela Banerjee case, SC interpreted the term “compensation” in Article 31(2) as a “just equivalent” of the owner’s loss. In response, the 4th Constitution Amendment (1955) explicitly stated that courts could not question the inadequacy of compensation.
• SC: The principles set by the legislature to determine compensation were open to judicial review.
• 25th Amendment, 1971: Replaced “compensation” with “amount” for land acquired by the state to bypass court oversight on property acquisition.
• SC upheld it in the Kesavananda Bharati case. Still, it diluted its intended effect by allowing courts to examine the relevance of principles used to determine compensation for property acquisition.
• 44th Amendment Act, 1978, deleted the right to property under Article 19(1)(f) from Part III and made it a constitutional right under Article 300-A.
• Article 31 (Compulsory acquisition of property) was also deleted.

SC: Property ownership is directly related to the quality of civilisation and culture. The right to property is both
constitutional and human right. 

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