The Right to Property has been a fundamental aspect of legal and social discourse in India. However, the journey of this right has undergone significant transformations over the years. Through this article, we will discuss the historical evolution, current status, and implications of the Right to Property in India.

Historical Background: 

The Right to Property was initially enshrined as a fundamental right in the Constitution of India under Article 19(1)(f) and Article 31. The framers of the Constitution recognized the importance of safeguarding an individual’s right to own, acquire, and dispose of property as a fundamental right essential for the protection of personal liberty and economic freedom.

However, in 1978, during the 44th Amendment, the Right to Property underwent a significant change. The amendment led to the removal of the right as a fundamental right and reclassified it as a legal right under Article 300A. This shift marked a departure from the previous emphasis on property rights and reflected a balance between individual rights and broader societal interests.

But in one of the decisions, the Supreme Court made it quite evident that the administration cannot take away someone’s property rights without a court’s permission. The State may purchase someone’s property for public use in exchange for payment; this payment need not be exactly equal to the purchase price of the property, but it also cannot be excessively high or misleading.

Current Status: 

As of now, the Right to Property is not absolute but is subject to reasonable restrictions imposed by law. Article 300A guarantees that no person shall be deprived of his or her property save by the authority of law. This means that the government can acquire private property for public use but must follow due process and provide fair compensation to the owner.

The Land Acquisition Act, 2013, is a crucial legislation governing the acquisition of land by the government for public purposes. It outlines the procedures for land acquisition, determination of compensation, and rehabilitation and resettlement of affected persons. This legislation strives to strike a balance between development needs and protecting the rights of property owners.

In Indian Handicraft Emporium v. Union of India, the Supreme Court of India articulated the country’s most recent view on property rights, stating that while the right to own property is protected by Article 300-A of the Constitution as a human right, it is not a basic one. Although every claim to property would not be considered a property right, it is a statutory right nonetheless.

Factors challenging the right

While the shift from a fundamental right to a legal right was intended to promote social welfare and equitable distribution of resources, it has posed challenges and raised concerns. The emphasis on ‘public purpose’ as a prerequisite for land acquisition has sometimes been subject to interpretation, leading to controversies and disputes.

One of the notable challenges is the issue of fair compensation. Despite legal provisions, instances of inadequate compensation or delayed payments have been reported. This has sparked debates on the need for a more comprehensive and efficient mechanism to ensure that property owners are justly compensated for their loss.

Furthermore, the Right to Property intersects with issues of land rights, especially for marginalized communities and indigenous groups. Land disputes often arise due to competing claims, leading to conflicts between the right to property and the need for inclusive development.


The Right to Property in India has undergone a profound transformation from being a fundamental right to a legal right, reflecting the evolving socio-economic landscape. While the change aimed to strike a balance between individual rights and societal interests, challenges persist in its implementation.

Efforts should be made to address concerns related to fair compensation, timely payment, and the protection of land rights for marginalized communities. Additionally, there is a need for a nuanced approach that recognizes the importance of property rights while ensuring that development initiatives align with broader social objectives.

In conclusion, the Right to Property in India is a dynamic aspect of the legal framework that requires continuous evaluation and refinement to adapt to the evolving needs of society. Striking a balance between individual rights and the common good remains a complex but essential goal for the effective functioning of a just and equitable society.

Prasanjeet Mallick (Legal Intern)

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