This article is a compilation of Article 31 as it is. You can understand it well, that’s why its explanation is also given below, you must read it. Its explanation is also available in Hindi, for this you can use the link given below;

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Article 31
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Article 31

📜 Article 31

31. [Compulsory acquisition of property.].— Omitted by the Constitution (Forty-fourth Amendment) Act, 1978, s. 6 (w.e.f. 20-6-1979).

🔍 Explanation

Article 31 was abolished by the 44th Constitutional Amendment Act 1978. That is why there is no article like Article 31 in the Constitution.

However, remember here that Articles 31(a), 31(b) and 31(c) were created with the help of various constitutional amendments. And these three articles are still in existence today. And it not only exists but it is also very important.

That’s why it becomes very important to understand these three. So you can understand all three with the help of below link;

⚫ Article-31 (a) – Constitution of India
⚫ Article-31 (b) – Indian Constitution
⚫ Article-31 (c) – Indian Constitution


Subject matter of article 31

There were two clauses under Article 31 – 31(1) and 31(2). Let us first understand a bit about it;

clause (1) of article 31 The provision of (right to acquire property) has been retained but in a different form. That means it is no longer a fundamental right. It has been placed in Article 300A.

The difference between not having a fundamental right is that now if the executive or the police take away a person’s property without the authority of the law, then they will not have the right to go directly to the Supreme Court under Article 32.

However , in Article 300A it has been written that the state cannot deprive anyone of his property without the authority of law. But since it is no longer a fundamental right, even if it is done, the Supreme Court cannot be asked to restore it.

However, he can approach the High Court under Article 226 and get legal remedies. Apart from this, another way is to show that the case is linked to Article 14 or 19 in some way, this will lead to the activation of Article 13 and the way to the Supreme Court will be opened.

clause (2) of article 31 If we talk about it, it has been repealed. But its second proviso was kept alive. And it was made a part of Article 31.

Proviso is an exception to the main provision or conditions. Usually when the main clause ends, the proviso ends as well. But in the case of Article 31(2) this did not happen. Why it did not happen is a matter to be understood;

Why was Article 31 abolished?

The Indian Constitution came into force in 1950 and with its implementation many constitutional problems started coming up. These problems were basically between the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy.

⚫ The Directive Principles of State Policy were made part of the Constitution as a guiding principle. With the aim that in the coming times, it will keep reminding the state that how to design its policies and what are the things that have to be accomplished in the future.

⚫ While talking about fundamental rights, under this all those rights were ensured which are expected in a democracy or necessary for the all round development of human beings.

The fundamental right  is enforceable, that is, if it is violated, the Supreme Court can be directly approached and the protection of the fundamental rights can be sought,

At the same time, under Article 37, the Directive Principles of State Policy are non-enforceable, but the same Article also imposes a moral obligation on the State that the State shall incorporate these elements while making laws.

And this is where the situation of conflict started because there are many Directive Principles which do not match with the Fundamental Rights. Let’s understand it with an example-

⚫ Article 14 , Article 15 and Article 16 talk about equality. Specifically, Article 15 prohibits discrimination by the state on grounds of sex, caste, religion, place of birth or race.

Talking about Article 16, it ensures equal opportunities available to all for employment or appointment to any post under the state. Here too discrimination against citizens on the basis of religion, caste, gender, place of birth, or origin has been prohibited.

At the same  time, Article 46 of the Directive Principles  of  State Policy mainly talks about promoting the economic and educational interests of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to bring them into the mainstream of the society.

The contradiction here is that – on one hand Article 15 and Article 16 talk about equality, while on the other hand Article 46 talks about special type of facility or rather  reservation  for SC and ST class .

Now again a problem arises here too, if we protect equality then the people of lower class will never be able to come in the main stream and if we give reservation then equality will not survive.

⚫ See another example So the right to property was enshrined under Article 19(1)(f) and Article 31 . That is, this article protects individuals from arbitrary seizure of private property by the government or the state for both public and private purposes.

On the other hand, Article 39(b) under the Directive Principles of State Policy lays emphasis on equitable distribution of material resources of the community for the common good, and 39(c) lays emphasis on prevention of concentration of wealth and production.

That is to say, Article 39 imposes a moral duty on the state to ensure equal distribution of material resources in the interest of the people, and prevent accumulation of wealth in the hands of a single person or only a few. Whereas the fundamental right says that keep property as much as you want, because keeping property is a fundamental right.

⚫ Now the government had the same problem that if they do, they should do what they say, then they should say what. Because the social, economic and educational condition of the country was not good. And if some extra effort was not made by the government, then the situation was not going to improve.

In such a situation, the government had to do something, the Bihar government brought the Bihar Land Reforms Act 1950 so that the property of the landlords could be taken away and distributed among the poor or that property could be used for social reform.

But a landlord named Kameshwar Singh did not like that having property is a fundamental right, so why is the government snatching it away! That’s why Kameshwar Singh challenged this law in Patna High Court.

And in the case of Kameshwar Singh v. State of Bihar (1951), the Patna High Court declared this law unconstitutional as it violated a fundamental right.

⚫ Another similar case is the case of Champakam Dorairajan v. State of Madras, 1951.

When the Madras government made arrangements for reservation for different classes in the medical college keeping in mind the directive principles of policy, then due to this arrangement a Brahmin girl named Champakam Dorairajan could not get admission. So he filed a petition in the Madras High Court regarding the violation of his fundamental rights.

Champakam Dorairajan argued that this cannot be done under Article 15, 16 and Article 29(2). Because this is a violation of fundamental rights.

Citing Article 46 of the DPSP, the government said that since seats can be reserved on its basis, that is why it was done. And Article 37 also says right here that it  will be the duty of the state to implement it  .

Supreme Court Said that the reservation given on the basis of community violates the fundamental rights, therefore the state cannot make arrangements for reservation on the basis of caste or religion in the matter of admission, because it violates Article 16(2) and Article 29(2).

Overall, the Supreme Court made it clear that whenever there is a conflict between the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of Policy, then in that situation only the Fundamental Rights will be considered effective and not the DPSP.

In this way, it was finalized in the month of April in 1951 that now if the government does something on the basis of DPSP, then the fundamental rights will come in the way every time as an obstacle and when it goes to the Supreme Court, only the fundamental rights will win. And the goal of socialism will never be fulfilled.

The Prime Minister of that time,  Jawaharlal Nehru,  who was a leader of a  socialist ideology , understood that now the constitution would have to be amended.

And thus the first constitutional amendment came into existence, under which Article 31A and Article 31B were inserted in the Constitution. With the help of Article 31A , land acquisition was made easy and the court should not interfere in it, hence Ninth Schedule was made under Article 31B.

⚫ In this way the effect of Article 31 and Article 19(1)(f) was diluted. But as the central and state governments started implementing land reforms, these laws were also challenged.

Shankari Prasad case, Sajjan Singh case, Golaknath case, Kesavananda Bharti case are some very famous cases.

This was not enough that in 1971, Indira Gandhi’s government inserted Article 31C in the Constitution to implement Article 39(b) and (c) with the help of the 25th Constitutional Amendment Act.

Overall, the government was getting very upset because almost all the cases went to the court. So the government weakened Article 31, Article 19(1)(f) etc. as much as possible.

⚫ Emergency was imposed in 1975 and in 1976 Indira Gandhi amended every provision she wanted to do. However, he did not remove Article 31 and Article 19(1)(f) from the Fundamental Rights.

This work was done by the government of Morar ji Desai. When Morar ji Desai came to power in 1977 after the Emergency, he made the 44th amendment to the constitution in 1978 and Article 31 and Article 19(1)(f) were removed from the fundamental rights.

Article 31 was subsumed under Article 300A and thus it ceased to be a constitutional right.

⚫ Overall The 44th Constitutional Amendment in 1978 removed this right from the list of “Fundamental Rights” because it posed several challenges to achieving the goal of socialism and equitable economic distribution.

Remember, the right to property is still available to citizens, but only as a legal right, not a fundamental one.

So hope you have understood Article 31. To understand other paragraphs, you can use the link given below.

⚫ Article-31 (a) – Constitution of India
⚫ Article-31 (b) – Indian Constitution
⚫ Article-31 (c) – Indian Constitution

So overall this is Article 31, I hope you have understood. To understand other article, you can use the link given below.

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Disclaimer - The articles and their interpretations presented here are based on the original Constitution (latest edition), DD Basu's commentary on the Constitution (mainly) and various scholars of the Constitution (whose writings are available in newspapers, magazines and audio-visuals on the Internet). We have just tried to make it interesting and easy to understand.