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Property Rights Emphasized



  May 17, 2024

Property Rights Emphasized



The Supreme Court of India reinforced the constitutional protection of private property, emphasizing that the state cannot acquire property without adhering to proper legal procedures and ensuring fair compensation. This ruling was delivered by a Bench consisting of Justices P.S. Narasimha and Aravind Kumar.

Highlights of the Judgment

- Constitutional and Human Rights: The court affirmed that the right to private property is not only a constitutional right but also a human right. This status necessitates strict adherence to legal processes before property can be taken for public use.

- Mandatory Procedures: Justice Narasimha, the author of the judgment, highlighted that possessing the power of eminent domain does not automatically validate the acquisition of private property. The state must follow mandatory legal procedures and ensure the process is constitutional.

- Calcutta High Court Order Upheld: The Supreme Court upheld a previous order from the Calcutta High Court that rejected an appeal by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, which had acquired private land. The corporation was ordered to pay ₹5 lakh as costs.

Legal Framework

- Article 300A: While the 44th Constitutional Amendment removed the right to property as a fundamental right, it introduced Article 300A. This article stipulates that no person shall be deprived of their property without the authority of law, which includes observing detailed procedures and not just the presence of a law allowing expropriation.

Procedural Rights Defined

The judgment detailed seven procedural rights that safeguard private property under Article 300A:

1. Right to Notice: The state must inform a person when it intends to acquire their property.

2. Right to be Heard: The state must listen to any objections the property owner has regarding the acquisition.

3. Right to a Reasoned Decision: The state must provide a clear rationale when deciding to acquire private property.

4. Demonstration of Public Purpose: The acquisition must be shown to be solely for a public purpose.

5. Right to Fair Compensation: The property owner is entitled to reasonable and fair compensation.

6. Efficient Process: The acquisition process should be conducted efficiently and within a set timeframe.

7. Conclusion of Proceedings: The process concludes not just with compensation but with the actual physical possession of the property.

Conclusion

This Supreme Court decision is a significant affirmation of property rights in India, ensuring that any deprivation of property by the state is conducted within the bounds of law and justice. This ruling not only protects property owners but also fortifies the legal framework governing the use of eminent domain.


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