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Right To Shelter As A Human Fundamental Right

The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights places great emphasis on the principles of freedom, equality, and nondiscrimination. "Right is an interned recognized, protected, and enforced by law," claims Roscoe Pound. While goal-based thinking is collective, right-based thinking is individual. The Indian Constitution's Part III stands for the idea of right-based governance, while Part IV is goal-based.

The Indian Constitution's Article 21 guarantees the right to life and personal liberty, which encompasses the following: the right to health, the right to life with dignity, the right to education, the right to housing, and so on. Legal security, the availability of infrastructure, utilities, and services, cost, habitability, accessibility, location, and appropriate culture are all considered aspects of acceptable housing.

International Instruments:

One essential element of the right to live in dignity is the right to appropriate housing. "The right to adequate housing is the most comprehensively elaborated in article 11(1) of ICESCR. The right to security of place recognises the importance of tenure rights (for tenure owners and those too poor to rent or buy a home) and the critical right to be protected against any arbitrary or forced eviction from one's home. India expressly prohibits the practice of forcible eviction under the ICESCR as part of its commitment to provide appropriate housing. The Committee on Economics, Social and Cultural Rights' General Comment 7 acknowledges that this infringement of privacy, security, and liberty is against human rights legislation.

Forcible eviction is also considered a gross violation of human rights, especially the right to housing, according to the UN commission on human rights. Though the right to sufficient housing is not mentioned specifically in the Indian constitution. It is acknowledged as a subset of other fundamental rights and is guaranteed. Because the practice of forced eviction makes it illegal for anyone to be deprived of their life or personal liberty, Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees everyone the right to appropriate shelter.

Meaning Of Housing And Shelter:

Although a living area is often referred to as "housing" or "shelter," it can mean more than just a set of four walls and a roof over one's head. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that many people still find the four walls and roof to be out of reach. Although the terms "housing" and "shelter" are more frequently used interchangeably, they differ in a few ways.

The term "housing" relates more to the tangible aspects of a home, such as its layout or construction. Although the terms "adequate shelter" and "housing" are similar, the former refers specifically to the environment, sanitization, water supply, lighting, and other necessities of life. The basic components of housing and shelter are what set apart an appropriate living environment from a simple one. To illustrate, the slums of India, which house 35.2% of the country's urban population, do not meet the criteria for sufficient housing or shelter because they are devoid of certain services. In general, it lacks sanitary amenities, adequate infrastructure, etc.

Right Of Slum Dwellers:

In the case of the Gujarat High People Union for Civil Liberties v. State of Gujarat, the Supreme Court stated as follows: "We do not think that in balancing the right of individual and society we would be less kind and merciful towards the section which justify deserves it. We are aware that law is heartless and therefore, it requires medium of mercy implement it." In the case of Indira Sawhney v. Union of India, the Supreme Court made it clear that the term "Weaker Section" of the population refers to a larger group of individuals than the term "Back Word class," which only refers to a subset of the weaker section. Regressive courses consist solely of persons who are economically or socially backward.

The phrase "weaker section" can apply to any segment of society that is made weaker by a variety of factors, such as poverty, natural disasters, physical disabilities, or calamities. It need not be limited to a particular group or class. In light of this provision, the state is required to carry out additional duties; however, one thing is certain: in terms of the right to work, education, and public assistance in the event of unemployment, Article 41 refers to the limits of its economic capacity; as such, economic capacity must be taken into consideration while securing these rights.

Shelter As A Fundamental To The Human Right:

All of these other rights are impacted, either directly or indirectly, by inadequate housing:

  • The right to a living standard that is suitable.
  • The right to sanitary facilities and safe drinking water.
  • Right to a safe and healthy environment;
  • Right to the best possible level of physical and mental health.
  • A child's right to a setting that is suitable for their physical and mental growth.
  • The ability to obtain resources, such as those needed for heating, cooking, and lighting.
  • The freedom from discrimination on the basis of sex, race, or any other status when it comes to housing and related services.
  • The flexibility to travel around and select where and how to live.
  • The right to confidentiality.
  • The right to security, which includes tenure security.
  • The right to be shielded against forced eviction and from having one's home destroyed or demolished in any circumstance, including armed settlements, population transfers, military occupation, and development initiatives.
  • Right to judicial remedies and equal treatment under the law to address violations of the human right to sufficient housing.

Rehabilitation To Slum Dwellers:

According to the Afzulpurkar committee, the hutment and slum residents of unlicensed buildings are an essential component of this thriving city. Each and every one of them surely contributes to the development, prestige, and prosperity of this magnificent city. They have contributed to and are still contributing to the establishment and upkeep of Brihan Mumbai's commercial, industrial, and economic significance.

We cannot ignore the fact that slum dwellers are forced to live in filthy conditions and shanty structures because of compelling circumstances, such as being evicted from formal housing because it was too expensive and above their income levels. A significant portion of them are members of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. Enhancing their standard of living is essential, and the first step towards achieving this is obtaining an authorised dwelling unit.

This will not only improve their health and hygiene but also raise public hygiene standards, which is necessary to raise them from their current state. Cross-referencing the cost of dwelling units and providing them at no cost, although not supported by housing philosophy, has become necessary and a given situation. The slum dwellers deserve special treatment, like. The study group has been operating under the premise that "unequal rules are necessary if inequality is to be eliminated."

The right to sufficient housing and shelter is a grave concern, and many people continue to be denied it in spite of several government initiatives. Many people are not even aware that it is their right to have access to decent home and shelter. The biggest factor contributing to a lack of housing and shelter is still poverty and income. Many people are forced to live in subpar and terrible conditions in urban areas due to a lack of affordable housing options, which can have major long-term effects on their health.

A number of other rights, including the rights to life, health, and privacy, are violated in connection with a lack of housing and shelter. Individuals' ignorance presents another obstacle to the proactive implementation of laws. The Indian Constitution's Articles 14, 21, and 15 ensure substantive equality, requiring the state to adopt affirmative action to provide chances for the underprivileged and outlawing discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, caste, or place of birth.

When taken as a whole, these provisions forbid depriving the marginalised of their rights to land and basic shelter, and they also call for official intervention to address these injustices. One crucial aspect of the right to equality is the right to decent housing. It is connected to our economic and social rights, with one set of rights offering some of the framework for the other. The protection of housing rights has been given a lot of weight by the Indian Supreme Court as part of the greater effort to achieve social and economic goals, which is also a core constitutional purpose. In today's developing India, protecting and advancing slum dwellers' right to shelter is imperative.

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