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Article 39(b) of India's Constitution: Resource Distribution



  Apr 30, 2024

Article 39(b) of India's Constitution: Resource Distribution.



Introduction to Article 39(b)

Article 39(b) of the Constitution of India falls under the Directive Principles of State Policy, which instructs the State to ensure that the ownership and control of the community's material resources are distributed to best serve the common good. This progressive obligation seeks to align the distribution of resources with the principles of social justice and equity.

Key Case Laws Interpreting Article 39(b)

★ State of Karnataka v. Shri Ranganatha Reddy (1977)


★ Court: Supreme Court of India, Seven Judge Constitution Bench

★ Outcome: The majority held that privately owned resources do not fall under this category, a view opposed by Justice Krishna Iyer in his minority opinion.

★ Sanjeev Coke Manufacturing Company v. Bharat Coking Coal Ltd. (1983)

★ Court: Supreme Court of India, Five Judge Bench

★ Outcome: The court endorsed Justice Iyer's minority view from Ranganatha Reddy, expanding the definition to include private resources as part of the community's material resources.

★ Mafatlal Industries Ltd. v. Union of India (1997)

★ Court: Supreme Court of India, Nine Judge Constitution Bench

★ Outcome: The court upheld the view from Sanjeev Coke Manufacturing Company, affirming that private resources are included under this definition.

Ongoing Judicial Deliberations

Referral to Larger Bench: The matter was escalated to a seven-judge, and subsequently a nine-judge bench, to reconcile these differing interpretations.

Current Status

Supreme Court Review: As of April 2024, the case is under review by a bench led by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, focusing on the broader interpretation of "material resources of the community."

This evolving jurisprudence reflects the dynamic interpretation of constitutional directives, balancing property rights with the overarching goal of resource distribution for the common good. The outcome of the ongoing deliberations will significantly influence the application of Article 39(b) in future policy-making and legal frameworks.


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