Research Paper: Evolution of Property Rights in India

EVOLUTION OF PROPERTY RIGHTS IN INDIA:  Lessons from the past, possibilities for the future by Madhumita Datta Mitra* Right to property is framed as a human right under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is recognized as a fundamental right in most democracies. It is one of the most controversial of rights, always in need of an appropriate definition suited to a nation’s political, social and economic conditions. While all liberal constitutions allow for certain reasonable restrictions on an absolute right to property for some public good, the challenge facing every country is where to draw the line against state interference into a person’s right to own and enjoy property. Download [PDF] I. Introduction In 1950, independent India drafted into its new Constitution a set of fundamental rights for its citizens to free speech, peaceful assembly, association, to move freely throughout the territory, to reside and settle in any part of the country, “to acquire, hold and dispose of property”, and to practice any profession, or carry on any occupation, trade or business. The Constitution also gave the nation an independent judiciary. Of all the fundamental rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution, the right to property has been persistently under attack from the Executive. Political philosophies of the day claimed a need to set right historical wrongs. Whittling down property rights through repeated subversion of the Constitution was the chosen path. This pitted the Executive against the Judiciary, while the former claimed mandate from the people, the latter saw itself to be the final arbiter on the Constitution as framed by the founding fathers. Undermining of the right...