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Property rights extended to non-citizens under Article 300A

Property rights extended to non-citizens under Article 300A

In a landmark judgment, the expansive reach of the right to property as guaranteed by Article 300A of the Constitution has been reaffirmed by the Supreme Court of India. 

Delivered by a bench comprising Justices BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan, it has been clarified that this fundamental right extends not only to citizens of India but also to individuals who are not citizens of the country.

Central to the case at hand was the interpretation of the Enemy Property Act, 1968, and its implications on municipal laws. It has been held by the court that properties classified as 'enemy property' under the aforementioned act are not exempt from municipal regulations, as they are not exclusively vested with the Union Government. 

This decision underscores the principle of uniformity in the treatment of enemy properties across the nation, ensuring that they are managed and dealt with consistently in accordance with the provisions of the law.

The understanding that Article 300A safeguards the right to property in a broad sense, encompassing not only tangible assets but also intangible rights, titles, and interests associated with a property, was central to the court's reasoning. 

The justices emphasized that this constitutional protection extends not only to legal entities or juristic persons but also to individuals who may not hold citizenship status in India. A deep appreciation for the underlying principles of Article 300A, which guards against unjust deprivation of property without due compensation, is reflected in the judgment. 

Concern was expressed by the court that transferring ownership of enemy properties to a custodian, who then administers or manages them on behalf of the Union, could potentially infringe upon the rights of the true owners, even if they are considered enemies or enemy subjects. 

Therefore, any such transfer of ownership must be accompanied by adequate compensation, in line with the constitutional mandate.

By affirming the applicability of Article 300A to non-citizens and upholding the principles of fair treatment and compensation, the Supreme Court has reinforced the significance of property rights as fundamental to the fabric of India's constitutional democracy.

Case: LUCKNOW NAGAR NIGAM & OTHERS vs. KOHLI BROTHERS COLOUR LAB. PVT. LTD. & OTHERS, 

Civil Appeal No. 2878 of 2024.

Click to read/download judgment

 

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