Your rights

The Right to Adequate Housing & The Right to City

In the Constitution of India, there is no specific right to housing spelt out separately.

The Preamble highlights the guarantee of social justice, and of the right to dignity. A collective reading of the provisions relating to equality, the freedom of movement, of residence anywhere in the country, and the freedom
to carry on one’s trade or profession read with Article 21 impliedly invalidates the denial of the rights of the underprivileged to the basic survival rights. It also enjoins the State to not adopt measures that would deprive them of such basic rights.

Article 21, which guarantees that “no person shall be deprived of his life and liberty except according to procedure established by law,” has been interpreted by the Supreme Court of India to include a range of basic survival rights.

The right to housing is a bundle of rights not limited to a bare shelter over one’s head. It includes the right to livelihood, right to health, right to education and right to food, including right to clean drinking water, sewerage and transport facilities [emphasis added].

India’s obligation under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) to guarantee the rights enunciated in the Covenant, including the human right to adequate housing:

Under Article 2(2), ICESCR every State party, including India, has undertaken to guarantee “that the rights enunciated in the present Covenant will be exercised without discrimination of any kind as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

General Comment 4 of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) to emphasize the integral elements of the human right to adequate housing:

(i) legal security of tenure
(iv) habitability

The CESCR emphasised that the right to adequate housing cannot be viewed in isolation from other human rights contained in the two international covenants i.e. the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the ICESCR.

“Right to the City, and Cities for All”

The right to the city is…defined as the right of all inhabitants present and future, to occupy, use and produce just, inclusive and sustainable cities, defined as a common good essential to the quality of life.

The right to the city further implies responsibilities on governments and people to claim, defend, and promote this right.

A non-exhaustive list of components that ensure the ‘city as a common good’:

(a) a city free of discrimination; (regarding tenants marital status: married or bachelor/spinster; gender-based discrimination by a cooperative housing society)
(d) a city ensuring equitable access for all to shelter, goods and services

So we pledge to claim, defend, and promote the right to housing without discrimination where we can.

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