Legal Correspondent

Plea challenges deletion of Article 19 (1) (f) from Fundamental Rights chapter

Without right to buy, hold and dispose of property, other rights are meaningless

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Union government on a public interest litigation petition seeking a direction to make ‘right to property’ a fundamental right under the Constitution.

A Bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam issued notice on the petition filed by Sanjiv Kumar Agarwal, founder of the Kolkata-based Good Governance India Foundation, after hearing senior counsel Harish Salve.

The petition challenged the deletion of Article 19 (1) (f) from the Fundamental Rights chapter of the Constitution by the Constitution 44th Amendment of 1978. According to the object: “In view of the special position sought to be given to fundamental rights, the right to property, which has been the occasion for more than one amendment of the Constitution, would cease to be a fundamental right and become only a legal right. Necessary amendments for this purpose are being made to Article 19 and Article 31 is being deleted ....”

Acquisition schemes

The petitioner contended that over the years the importance of the right of individuals to private property was limited in scope and size and constantly invaded by schemes of acquisition without any safeguards as to the reasonableness of the law or their ultimate purpose.

He submitted that the right to property, which existed as a fundamental right on April 24, 1973 when the apex court decision in the Kesavananda Bharati case was pronounced, was part of the basic structure and could not have been amended, leave alone deleted.

Take over of land

“Nowadays, further such inroads into the right to property are evident in the newly formed policy on SEZs, which has its goal the taking over of the property of individuals, small peasants and farmers under the Land Acquisition Act without reference to their reasonableness and under the new founded ideas that public purposes were best served by private interests.”

The petitioner said Article 19 (1) (f) was inextricably linked to Articles 19 (1) (d), (e) and (g), viz. right to move, right to reside and settle in any part of the country and right to occupation, which together formed the fabric of unity and integrity of the nation.

Meaningless

And without the right to acquire, hold and dispose of property, these other rights would become ephemeral and meaningless.

The petitioner, therefore, sought a direction to strike down the Constitution 44th amendment as being violative of the basic structure of the Constitution.