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Right to property although not protected under Part III of Constitution it remains a Valuable Right

B. K. RAVICHANDRA & ORS. V UNION OF INDIA & ORS., CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1460/2010, November 24, 2020.

The Hon’ble Supreme court bench consisting of Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice S. Ravindra Bhat decided the present case. UOI exercising its powers conferred under the Requisition and Acquisition of Immovable Properties Act, 1952 requisitioned certain lands. The said act was to be in force was for 6 years and later the period of operations extended. Later the Union of India invoked the Defence of India Act, 1962 to acquire the said lands. The predecessors of the appellants contested the acquisition stating inadequate compensation and sought for its enhancement. The dispute referred to the arbitration and the arbitral award provided enhancement. Further, the arbitral award was challenged by the Union of India. Later, the said appeal was disposed of by filing a joint memo by the parties and referred the matter to the arbitration for the second time and the arbitrator fixed the compensation. This time the parties challenged the arbitral award before the High Court of Karnataka and the High Court has set aside the arbitral award and ordered for fresh adjudication through arbitration. The arbitrator provided two awards one being that the two lands were illegally acquired and not as per the law and one was validly acquired and the second award provided enhanced compensation. Being aggrieved by both the awards made through the arbitration the Union of India filed an appeal before the Hon'ble Karnataka HC. The division bench of the Karnataka High Court has upheld the award made through the arbitration. Thus, this SLP under Article 136 of constitution of India.

The appellants contended that the possession of the union was not authorized by law and should vacate the suit property. The learned counsel has relied on the judgment of this Hon’ble Court in State of Haryana v Mukesh Kumar where it was held that the right to property is “not only a constitutional or statutory right, but a human right”.

The legal effect of requisitioning immovable property, it goes without saying, is that temporarily- i.e. for the period the requisition order is in operation, the owner loses her possessory rights, even though the title remains undisturbed. Since the deprivation of possession is through authority of law, in keeping with fair procedure, the law (in this case, the Requisitioning Act) provides for payment of compensation in accordance with predetermined principles. Yet, the taking of property by definition is finite: it cannot result in expropriation or deprivation of title altogether, unless another process for acquiring it, is initiated. (Para 18)

The court while emphasizing the importance of right to property has considered a plethora of earlier decisions in Delhi Airtech Services Pvt Ltd v. State of U.P, (2011) 9 SCC 354 and State of Rajasthan v. Basant Nahata, (2005) 12 SCC 77.

In a very recent judgment, D.B. Basnett v. Land Acquisition Officer, the court approved the findings of the courts below that the lands were never acquired, because the procedure prescribed was not followed; notice of acquisition had not been given, nor was any amount proved to have been received. (Para 23)

The court has further observed that,

It is, therefore, no longer open to the state: in any of its forms (executive, state agencies, or legislature) to claim that the law – or the constitution can be ignored, or complied at its convenience. The decisions of this court, and the history of the right to property show that though its pre-eminence as a fundamental right has been undermined, nevertheless, the essence of the rule of law protects it. The evolving jurisprudence of this court also underlines that it is a valuable right ensuring guaranteed freedoms and economic liberty. (Para 26)

The court has directed the union to hand back the possession of the suit lands to the appellants within three months.

Lalitha Sarvani. A



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