Development-induced displacements, and the usurpation of land of small property holders, are contributing to property rights gradually becoming a central social justice issue. Ordinarily, property rights consisting of land are conceived without due consideration of socio-economic rights. But in practice, property has a material effect on the enjoyment of the wide range of these rights including right to food, health, work, development etc. Similarly, there is a link between land, and right to housing and shelter, as the security of latter directly depends on the tenure system of the former. Without access to land, many people and communities may be deprived of the housing and shelter. In developing countries like India, right to housing is important for the social inclusion of the most marginalised people in the society. Enforcement of housing rights would compel governments to respect legal obligation to ensure a life of dignity for all. This also implies fighting against forced evictions of which thousands of people are victims every year in India.
In this paper author attempts to analyse this relationship between property rights and socio-economic rights; in particular right to housing and shelter. Author argues that the ideal of constitutional transformation demands that socio-economic goals should not be isolated from the transformative effect of the Constitution and the constitutional courts must work to reflect this effect. Property rights can not only coexist with socio-economic rights, but they also rest at the core of the social and economic justice. The first section- Introduces the debate on property rights and socio-economic rights in India; second section discusses changing conception on property rights; third section throws lights on the evolving jurisprudence on the right to housing and shelter in the context of forced evictions; fourth section looks at the possibilities of reinventing property rights post Forty-fourth Constitutional amendment and its implication for socio-economic rights.