Supreme Court bats against transfer of community resources

‘Essential to safeguard Article 21’

Updated - December 31, 2019 10:39 pm IST

Published - December 31, 2019 10:38 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Common areas are often the lifeline of village communities, said Supreme Court.

Common areas are often the lifeline of village communities, said Supreme Court.

The Government has no right to transfer “invaluable” community resources like village water ponds to a few powerful people and industrialists for commercialisation of the property, when many areas of the country perennially face water crisis and access to drinking water is woefully inadequate, the Supreme Court has held.

“Protection of such village commons is essential to safeguard the fundamental right guaranteed by Article 21 of our Constitution. These common areas are the lifeline of village communities, and often sustain various chores and provide resources necessary for life,” a Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Surya Kant observed in a recent judgment.

‘Exploited for long’

The court said the State cannot divest villagers of their existing source of water even if it promises to provide them an alternative site where the water body can be replicated. Such an attitude would display “a mechanical application of environmental protection,” the court said. There is no guarantee that the adverse effect of destroying the existing water body would be offsetand people would be compelled to travel miles to access the alternative site, said the SC.

“Since time immemorial, certain common lands had vested in village communities for collective benefit… Such protections, however, remained on paper. Since Independence, powerful people and a corrupt system had appropriated these lands for personal aggrandisement,” Justice Kant observed.

The judgment came on a plea by activist-lawyer Jitendra Singh against the transfer of village ponds’ sites of Saini Village in the National Capital Region to some private industrialists by the Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority.

The National Green Tribunal had refused to intervene on Mr. Singh’s plea that excavators and other heavy machinery were attempting to take over a common pond used by the villagers for a century.

Setting aside the Tribunal’s order, the apex court ordered the authorities and the industrialists to remove all obstructions and restore the water bodies within three months.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.