Article 31 of the Constitution of India
Article 31 of the Constitution not only guarantees the right of private ownership but also the right to enjoy and dispose of property free from restrictions other than reasonable restriction. The article states that no person shall be deprived of his/her property, except by authority of law. It is also mentioned that compensation would be paid to a person whose property has been taken for public purposes.
Meaning of Article 31
Unlike other fundamental rights, the scope of right to property is continuously diminished by curtailing it through constitutional amendments. Many times legal proceedings have arisen within the field of property rights, attributable to the big legislation enacted by the state and, therefore, the central governments to regulate the property rights. The foremost necessary question in these controversies has been the payment of compensation for the property rights acquired.
After 1978, there were only four constitutional provisions such as 31, 31B, 31C and 300A. Though 31A, 31B and 31C are included in the chapter on fundamental rights, they cannot be called fundamental rights in the real sense, as they impose certain restriction on right to property. The basic aim of these provisions was to provide immunity to various laws curtailing property rights.
Amendments to Article 31
The provisions about the right to property were modified a number of times. The fundamental right to property had been modified by the Parliament by many alternative Constitution Amendments. Art. 31-A, inserted by the Constitution First Amendment Act, 1951 with display effect, provides for acquisition of estates of the nature referred to in various clauses, declaring that such laws shall not be deemed void on the ground that they take away any of the rights given by Article 14 or 19 of the Constitution. The object of taking out the acquirement of transitional interests in land from the obligation to pay compensation was to make it attainable for the government to effect agrarian reform. It was required to safeguard the interests of the tenants and improve the agricultural wealth of the country.
While the Congress Government for over a quarter of a century had eaten into the vitals of Art.31(2) by successive amendments, it was left for the Janata government to eliminate the right of property altogether from the list of Fundamental Rights in Part III of the Constitution of India. The aggrieved person has no right to manoeuvre the court under Article 32. Thus, the right to property is no longer a fundamental right, though it’s still a constitutional right.
The 44th Amendment of 1978 deleted the right to property from the list of fundamental rights. After that, Article 300-A was added to the Constitution that states that the no one shall be deprived of his property, except by authority of law. According to the Doctrine of Eminent Domain, the state will acquire any personal property for public use; property is taken for public use and compensation is paid to the owner.
Several Amendments were made to Article 31 and eventually it was abolished. There were two Articles in the 1949 Constitution which provides the correct to property, i.e. Art. 19(1) (f) and Art. 31, but both the articles were deleted from the Indian Constitution by the 44th Amendment Act.
Article 31 with sub heading “Right to Property” has been omitted by the Constitution 44th Amendment Act, 1978. So, Article 31(1) has been shifted to article 300A as a replacement insertion in Chapter IV partially XII of the Constitution.
The Constitution makers conferred the right on every citizen of the country to acquire, hold and dispose of property and also provided ample safeguards against deprivation of the property by the Legislature by confining such deprivation for public purpose only on payment of compensation to the expropriated owner either by fixing the amount of compensation or by specifying the principles upon which it could be determined or fixed.