ARTICLE 300A (Syllabus GS Paper 2 – Polity)

News-CRUX-10     17th May 2024        

Context: The Supreme Court recently ruled that acquiring private property must follow the procedure prescribed under Article 300A of the Constitution; any acquisition without it is beyond legal authority.

Article 300A of the Indian Constitution

  • About: No person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law”.
  • Original Status: Originally, Part III of the COI established the right to property as one of the fundamental rights.
  • Presently, it is not a fundamental right, but rather a legal right.... Read more at:
  • Status of Right to Property: The Right to Property ceased to be a fundamental right with the 44th Constitution Amendment in 1978.

Landmark Judgement

  • A K Gopalan v. State of Madras (1950): The Madras High Court addressed the conflict between property rights and state regulatory power in this case.

o The court upheld the constitutionality of the Madras Maintenance of Public Order Act, 1949, permitting state property acquisition.

  • Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala (1973: Known as the "basic structure doctrine" case, it’s crucial for understanding the constitutional framework.

o The Supreme Court ruled Parliament can amend the Constitution but cannot alter its basic structure.

o This case influenced the amendment that changed the right to property from fundamental to legal.

  • Minerva Mills Ltd. v. Union of India (1980): The Supreme Court invalidated parts of the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976, limiting Parliament's amendment power.

o The court upheld the abolition of the fundamental right to property, but maintained it as a constitutional right.

Supreme Court Rulings:

  • The court emphasized that procedural justice under Article 300A is vital for the state's acquisition of private property.
  • Acquiring property for public purposes requires fair compensation and strict adherence to procedural safeguards.
  • The authority of law includes not just eminent domain but also the procedural fairness to ensure transparency.
  • Without proper procedures, compulsory acquisition is unconstitutional, even if compensation is provided.
  • Procedural safeguards are crucial for protecting property rights, ensuring fairness, transparency, and non-arbitrary power use.