Shantistar Builders v Narayan Khimalal Totame

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 31/01/2001

COURT: Supreme Court of India

JUDGES: R Misra, P Sawant, K Ramaswamy

REFERENCE: AIR 1990 SC 630

PARTIES

Petitioner: Shantistar Builders

Respondent: Narayan Khimalal Totame

SUBJECT:    The judgment revolves around the question of whether right to shelter is a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution?

FACTS: Under Sections 20 and 21 of the Urban Land Ceiling and Regulation Act, 1976, the State Government exempted certain excess land from the provisions of the Act on the condition that the land be used by the builders for the purpose of providing housing for the ‘weaker sections of society.’ Due to ineffective implementation of the Act a petition was filled before the Bombay HC, however when the petition was pending certain amendments were made to the Act which affected the petitioner’s contention. Although it found that the applicant’s writ petition had been rendered infructuous, the Bombay High Court gave some directions regarding future monitoring of the scheme sanctioned under Section 20. However, the petitioner approached the SC seeking directions for effective implementation of the Act.

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS:

The Indian Constitution:

  • Article 32: Remedies for enforcement of rights conferred by Part III
  • The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part is guaranteed
  • The Supreme Court shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III
  • Article 21: No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.
ISSUES:
  1. Whether right to life under the Article 21 of the Constitution includes right to shelter?
JUDGEMENT:
  • The three main basic requirements of man in any civilised society will include food, clothing, and shelter.
  • Shelter for a human being must be a suitable accommodation which would allow him to grow and develop in every aspect – physical, mental and intellectual.
  • A reasonable residence is an indispensable necessity for fulfilment of the constitutional goal in the matter of development of man and should be taken as included in ‘life’ in Article 21.

Considering the above principles the Court ordered that, no allocation under the Act is to be made before the needs of the persons who fall under the category of “weaker sections of the society” under Article 46 is fulfilled. The Court further held that, the State under Article 46 of the Constitution has an indispensable obligation to provide the weaker sections of the society with reasonable accommodation.

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