The Supreme Court on Friday said right to property was part of hu man rights and landowners had a right to fair compensa tion for land acquired by the government.“The right to property having been elevated to the status of human rights, it is inherent in every individual and thus has to be venerably acknowledged and can, by no means, be belittled or trivial ized by adopting an uncon cerned and nonchalant dis position by anyone, far less the State, after compulsorily acquiring his land by invok ing an expropriatory legisla tive mechanism,“ a bench o Justices V Gopala Gowda and Amitava Roy said.

The ruling in a case aris ing from the demand by a group of farmers in Rajas than for fair compensation for the land acquired from them by the government marks a step towards elevation of right to property.

Recognized as a fundamental right by the framers of the Constitution, right to property was done away with by the 44th amendment to the Constitution in 1978, in what reflected the ethos which had reigned supreme until the 1980s. Right to property is now recognized as a constitutional right by Article 300A, which provides that “no person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law“. The constitutional amendment only completed the process which began in the 1960s and which saw the government seeking to chip away at right to property for the professed objective of creation of an egalitarian society. On Friday, however, the wheel of jurisprudence appeared to be coming full circle when Justices Gowda and Roy, while stressing the constitutional obligation of the government to compensate landowners, called right to property a “prized privilege“.

The court said it was the government’s constitutional obligation to ensure that the landowner was adequately compensated. It said other rights became illusory in the absence of right to property and the state must ensure it was protected.

“The judicial mandate of human rights dimension, thus, makes it incumbent on the state to solemnly respond to its constitutional obligation to guarantee that a land loser is adequately compensated. The proposition does not admit of any compromise or laxity,“ it said.