Demolition drives violate international law


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Article 21 of Indian Constitution

Mains level : Paper 2- Right to housing


Communal clashes broke out during Ram Navami processions in several parts of the country including at Khargone in Madhya Pradesh. Subsequently, the Madhya Pradesh government bulldozed the houses of those who were allegedly involved in rioting.

Right to housing

  • Fundamental right under Article 21: The right to housing is not only a fundamental right recognised under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, it is also a well-documented right under the international human rights law framework, which is binding on India.
  • Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care.
  • Likewise, Article 11.1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) recognises “the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living condition.
  • The rights recognised under ICESCR, according to Article 4, can be restricted by States only if the limitations are determined by law in a manner compatible with the nature of these rights and solely to promote society’s general welfare.
  • Besides, international law also prohibits arbitrary interference in an individual’s right to property.
  • For instance, Article 12 of the UDHR states that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation”.
  • Article 12 also stipulates that “everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks”.
  • This same right is also provided under Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Protection against Forced eviction

  • According to the UN Human Rights Office, an integral element of the right to adequate housing is ‘protection against forced evictions’.
  • The UN Human Rights Office defines ‘forced evictions’ as ‘permanent or temporary removal against the will of individuals, families and/or communities from the homes and/or land which they occupy, without the provision of, and access to, appropriate forms of legal or other protection’.

Way forward

  • The apex court in cases like Bachan Singh vs State of PunjabVishaka vs State of Rajasthan, and recently in the famous Puttaswamy vs Union of India has laid down the principle that the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution must be read and interpreted in a manner which would enhance their conformity with international human rights law.
  • It is high time that the judiciary acted and imposed necessary checks on the unbridled exercise of power by the executive.


The bulldozing of the houses of the alleged rioters amounts to forced eviction and arbitrary interference with an individual’s home.

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