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Report No. 138

4.14. Right to shelter.-

Recently the Supreme Court, while dealing with the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976, sections 20 and 21, had occasion to deal with the human need for shelter.1

The observations of the Supreme Court in paragraphs 9 and 10 are as under:-

"9. Basic needs of man have traditionally been accepted to be three-food, clothing and shelter. The tight to life is guaranteed in any civilized society. That would take within its sweep the right to food, the right to clothing, the right to decent environment and a reasonable accommodation to live in. The difference between the need of an animal and a human being for shelter has to be kept in view.

For the animal it is the bare protection of the body; for a human being it has to be a suitable accommodation which would allow him to grow in every aspect-physical, mental and intellectual. The Constitution aims at ensuring fuller development of every child. That would be possible only if the child is in a proper home. It is not necessary that every citizen must be ensured of living in a well-built comfortable house but a reasonable home particularly for people in India can even be mud-built thatched house or a mud-built fire-proof accommodation.

10. With the increase of population and the shift of the rural masses to urban areas over the decades the ratio of poor people without houses in the urban areas has rapidly increased. This is a feature which has become more perceptible after independence. Apart from the fact that people in search of work move to urban agglomerations, availability of amenities and living conveniences also attract people to move from rural areas to cities. Industrialisation is equally responsible for concentration of population around industries. These are features which are mainly responsible for increase in the homeless urban population. Millions of people today live on the pavements of different cities of India and a greater number live animal-like existence in jhuggis."

1. Shantistar Builders v. Narayan Khimji Totame, AIR 1990 SC 630 (633), paras. 9 and 10 (Bench of three Judges: Ranganath Mishra, P.B. Sawant and K. Ramaswamy, JJ.).

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