Won’t go by ‘Marxist interpretation’ of wealth redistribution, says SC | India News

Won’t go by ‘Marxist interpretation’ of wealth redistribution, says SC | India News

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NEW DELHI: With the political slugfest over redistribution of wealth escalating, Supreme Court on Wednesday said it will not adhere to Justice V R Krishna Iyer’s 1977 Marxian interpretation of Article 39(b) of the Constitution that a community’s “material resources” would include private properties for reallocation to subserve the common good.
Engaged in interpreting the ambit of Article 39(b) of Directive Principles of State Policy in the Constitution, a nine-judge bench 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 distinction between community resources, held in trust by the present generation for future generations, and privately owned property.

Won’t go by ‘Marxist interpretation’ of wealth redistribution, says SC

“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 based on inter-generational equity,” the CJI said.
He said there were two extreme views on this: “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.”
Speaking for the bench, the CJI indicated community property would include natural resources, exploitation of which is governed by the SC-defined sustainable development norms, as these are held in trust by the present community for future generations. However, he caveated it by saying 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.
We cannot say Article 39(b) has no application to privately held properties like water, forests and mines. But it should not be taken to the level of taking someone’s personal property for distribution,said CJI D Y Chandrachud.
Senior advocate Uttara Babar argued that Article 39(b) talked only about “distribution” of community resources for greater common good and not how these are to be acquired, for which there are separate legislative and executive measures to be taken by the state.
The bench agreed that Article 39(b) was not a vehicle for acquisition of community resources but only furthered a goal envisaged by the Constitution framers and said, “This is an important point which the SC must deal with.”
Advocate T Srinivasa Murthy said Article 39(b) could not be viewed from the acquisition of resources point of view. If govt wants to acquire a housing project to provide houses to the poor, it would have to first acquire the project after paying fair compensation to the existing owners, he said.
“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. Arguments will continue on Thursday.

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