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Wealth redistribution: Supreme Court says ‘won’t go by Marxist interpretation’- Details

"The Marxist socialist view is everything belongs to the state and the community. The capitalist view puts importance on individual rights. And there is the Gandhian view of holding resources in trust for protecting inter-generational equity," the CJI said.

Amidst the political slug-fest over wealth redistribution, the Supreme Court announced on Wednesday (24th April) that it will not follow Justice V R Krishna Iyer’s 1977 Marxian interpretation of Article 39(b) of the Constitution, which stated that a community’s “material resources” would consist of private properties for reallocation to serve the benefit of all.

A nine-judge bench comprising of of CJI D Y Chandrachud, and Justices Hrishikesh Roy, B V Nagarathna, S Dhulia, J B Pardiwala, Manoj Misra, R Bindal, S C Sharma, and A G Masih, said there must be a line drawn between assets of the community held in trust by the present generation for future generations and property that is privately owned.

“We don’t have to go as far as the Marxist socialist interpretation by Justice Krishna Iyer [of Article 39(b) in Ranganatha Reddy case of 1977]. But community resources will surely include resources which the present generation holds in trust brd on inter-generational equity,” the CJI said.

The CJI discussed the views on community property, including Marxist socialist, capitalist, and Gandhian perspectives. He stated that community property includes natural resources, which are governed by sustainable development norms. However, he also acknowledged that forests, lakes and mines, even if held privately, would constitute community resources, benefits arising from which for the greater common good could not be stultified invoking individual rights.

“The Marxist socialist view is everything belongs to the state and the community. The capitalist view puts importance on individual rights. And there is the Gandhian view of holding resources in trust for protecting inter-generational equity,” the CJI said.

We cannot conclude that Article 39(b) does not apply to privately held properties such as water, forests, and mines. However, it should not be extended to the point of seizing someone’s personal property for distribution, stated CJI D Y Chandrachud.

Senior advocate Uttara Babar contended that Article 39(b) only addressed the “distribution” of community resources for the larger common benefit, not how these resources are to be obtained, which requires the state to adopt additional legislative and executive measures.

The bench concurred that Article 39(b) was not a vehicle for acquiring community resources but advanced an objective anticipated by the Constitution writers. It stated, “This is an important point which the SC must deal with.”

According to Advocate T Srinivasa Murthy, Article 39(b) cannot be interpreted as a resource acquisition provision. If the government wishes to acquire a housing project to provide housing for the poor, it must first offer appropriate compensation to the present owners, he added.

“It is not really necessary for the state to specifically call for the aid of Article 39(b) and make a declaration to that effect to get the protection under Article 31C as the power to acquire for a public purpose upon payment of a reasonable compensation is inbuilt in the existing law,” he said.

“The theme of social and economic justice running through Articles 38 and 39 of DPSP is aimed at making all citizens active participants in the nation’s economy while at the same time maintaining their dignity. These Articles are aspirational rather than seeking to make mere applicants and beneficiaries of citizens. It is equality of status, facilities, and opportunities that is the focus, not equality of result,” Murthy said.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
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