While directing the Central Government to hand over possession of land to its owner, the Supreme Court has reiterated that even though the right to property is not a fundamental right, it still remains a valuable constitutional right.
The Bench observed that the phrasing of Article 300 A was determinative, and its resemblance to Articles 265 and 21 could not be overlooked. In essence, the Articles are a guarantee of the supremacy of the rule of law.
What had happened in the case?
In the instant case, the High Court had agreed with the arguments of the landowner concerning the title and ownership of the suit lands, but it rejected his prayer to direct the Union government to vacate the owner’s land and while granting the owner the liberty to initiate appropriate proceedings for acquisition of such lands.
The land in question was taken into possession by the Union Government by requisitioning it as per Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable properties Act, 1952.
Supreme Court’s Observation and Decision:
While examining the facts of the case, the Apex Court observed that all along the Union of India had asserted that they had some right over the land in question even though throughout all the cases the findings went against them.
The Court also disagreed with the contention that adjoining areas had already been acquired and were used for defence purposes and that they were in the process of acquiring the land in question.
Hon’ble Court also referred to other judgments wherein importance of the right to property was emphasised. It was also stressed that laws for town planning or development should be clear about the effect and nature deprivation of the right to property and its expression.
It was held that the High Court erred while refusing to give the landowners right to their own property and remarked that thirty-three years was a long time to keep someone away for their own land.
While summing up, the Court remarked that it was no longer open to states to claim that the law or constitution can be ignored and to permit a state (whether Union or State ) to occupy someone else’s property was no less than condoning lawlessness.
Title: B K Ravichandra vs UOI
Case No.:Civil Appeal No.:1460/2010
Date of Order: 24.11.2020
Coram: Hon’ble Justice Indira Banerjee and Hon’ble Justice Ravindra Bhatt