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Will it be back to right to property?

Will it be back to right to property?

Author: Dhananjay Mahapatra
Publication: The Times of India
Date: February 28, 2009
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/Should-right-to-property-return/articleshow/4202212.cms

Introduction: PIL Says Fundamental Right Must As Govt 'Grabbing' Poor's Land

Should right to property be made a fundamental right? The Supreme Court on Friday issued a notice to the Centre on a PIL, which said the purpose for which right to property was relegated to a mere statutory right in the late 1970s is no longer relevant.

The PIL seeking the restoration of right to property in the third chapter of the Constitution, which enumerates the fundamental rights, argued that it was made a statutory right in 1978 to abolish large land holdings with zamindars and the rich and their distribution among landless peasants.

Having achieved the purpose behind the legislative action in the late 1970s, the government should now initiate fresh measures to put right to property back in the fundamental right basket, argued senior advocate Harish Salve on behalf of petitioner Sanjiv Kumar Agarwal of Good Governance India Foundation, an NGO. He said that what was done 30 years ago to address a particular issue, was now being abused by the government to strip farmers of their valuable land holdings for acquiring vast tracts of land, including agricultural fields, for setting up SEZs.

Salve told a bench that it was a grave situation and needed urgent action. The bench issued notice to the Union law ministry seeking its response to the PIL, which challenged the validity of the 44th amendment to the Constitution in 1978 on the ground that it was violating the basic structure of the Constitution. The petition stated that in the recent past, the acquisition of agricultural land depriving poor farmers of their only means of livelihood has given credence to the necessity of a fresh debate on making right to property as fundamental.

Though the 1978 constitutional amendment was to permit the government to acquire land for public purpose without being dragged to courts by big zamindars, in the last decade, land was being snatched away from the poor and the underprivileged and handed to rich MNCs and builders in the garb of public purpose.

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