Wednesday, September 15, 2010

SC: Janmam Estates Abolition Act not violative of fundamental right

The Supreme Court has held that the Gudalur Janmam Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, 1969, vesting private forests with the State, and its inclusion in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution did not violate any fundamental right or destroy the basic structure of the Constitution.

Dismissing a batch of petitions and appeals, a Bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia and Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar held that the purpose of the Act, enacted by the Tamil Nadu government, was meant to do away with hereditaryship.

Initially, the petitions came up before a bench of two judges and were referred to a larger bench later. After a nine-judge Bench held that even laws included in the Ninth Schedule would be subject to judicial review,
While Chief Justice Kapadia wrote a judgment for himself and Justice Kumar, Justice Radhakrishnan wrote a separate, but concurring, judgment.
these petitions were heard by a three-judge Bench.

Chief Justice Kapadia said: “It is the case of the petitioners that by reasons of the forests vesting in the State under the Janmam Act ‘the rule of equality in law' stood violated which violation amounted to abrogation of Article 14. One of the reasons for deletion of the “right to property” from Part III of the Constitution was that the economic liberties of freedom of property came in direct conflict with egalitarian values, including inter-generational equity.”

In his judgment, Justice Radhakrishnan said: “Right not to be deprived of property, save by authority of law, is no longer a fundamental right but only a constitutional right which has never been treated as part of the basic structure of the Constitution.”

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