Olga Tellis and ors Vs. Bombay Municipal Corporation and ors

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Omkar Mandhare VS Sagar Singh
Emblem of the Supreme Court of India.svg
CourtSupreme Court of India
Decided10 July 1985
Citation(s)1985 SCC (3) 545
Right to Life includes the Right to Livelihood.
Laws applied
Constitution of India, 1950 :
Article 32 - Fundamental Rights - Estoppel - Principle

behind - No estoppel can be claimed against enforcement of Right to livelihood.

Article 32 & 21 - Writ Petition against procedurally ultra vires Government action - Whether maintainable.
Bombay Municipal Corporation Act, 1888, s.314 - Power

to remove encroachments "without notice , when permissible -Section - Whether ultra vires the Constitution.

Administrative Law - Natural Justice - Audi alteram partem i.e listen to the other side-

Notice - Discretion to act with or without notice must be exercised reasonably, fairly and justly - Natural

justice - Exclusion - How far permissible.

Olga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corporation was decided in 1985 by the five Judges Bench of the Supreme Court of India. The Honorable bench consisted of C.J., Y.V. Chandrachud, J., A.V. Varadarajan, J., O. Chinnappa Reddy, J., S. Murtaza Fazal Ali and J., V.D. Tulzapurkar. This case came before the Supreme Court as a writ petition by persons who live on pavements and in slums in the city of Bombay. It was prayed by the petitioners to allow them to stay on the pavements against their order of eviction. The majority judgment (concurring by all the five Judges) was delivered by Honorable Chief Justice Y.V. Chandrachud.


The Judgment was delivered by Chief Justice Y.V Chandrachud i.e Yeshwant Vishnu Chandrachud(16th C.J.I) :-

Some main points include;

    • "For the purposes of argument, we will assume the factual correctness of the premises that if the petitioners are evicted from their dwellings, they will be deprived of their livelihood. Upon that assumption, the question which we have to consider is whether the right to life includes the right to livelihood, We see only one answer to that question, namely, that it does. The sweep of the right to life conferred by Art. 21 is wide and far-reaching... That, which alone makes it possible to live, leave aside what makes life liveable, must be deemed to be an integral component on the right to life."[1]
    • "Two conclusions emerge from this discussion: one, that the right to life which is conferred by Art. 21 includes the right to livelihood and two, that it is established that if the petitioners are evicted from their dwellings, they will be deprived of their livelihood. But the Constitution does not put an absolute embargo on the deprivation of life or personal liberty. By Art. 21, such deprivation has to be according to procedure established by law"
    • "In order to minimise the hardship involved in any eviction, we direct that the slums, wherever situated, will not be removed until one month after the end of the current monsoon season..."

Enforcement of the Decision and Outcome[edit]

The pavement dwellers were evicted without resettlement. Since 1985, the principles in this case have been affirmed in many subsequent decisions, frequently leading to large-scale evictions without resettlement.[2] For example, in the Narmada dam cases, adequate resettlement was ordered but most affected evictees have not been properly resettled and the majority of the Court declined to examine the extent to which their judgment was enforced: see Narmada Bachao Andolan v. Union of India (2000) 10 SCC 664[3]

Significance of the case[edit]

Olga Tellis has stated: “Ironically,[the case] helped the propertied classes; lawyers often cite the case to justify eviction of tenants and slum dwellers. But it also helps the slum dwellers; the Government can't evict them summarily. The case also spawned a lot of interest in fighting for housing as a fundamental right … but if you were a pavement dweller, it is just not enough.” This case is widely quoted as exemplifying the use of civil and political rights to advance social rights but it is also viewed as problematic due to its failure to provide for the right to resettlement. It is also inconsistent with developments in other jurisdictions, where courts have found stronger rights to resettlement.[4]


  1. ^ "Olga Tellis & Ors vs Bombay Municipal Corporation & ... on 10 July, 1985". indiankanoon.org. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  2. ^ livelaw (13 August 2015). "Re-reading 'Olga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corp' as Petitioner completes 50". Live Law. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  3. ^ "Olga Tellis & Ors v Bombay Municipal Council [1985] 2 Supp SCR 51. | ESCR-Net". www.escr-net.org. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  4. ^ https://indiankanoon.org/doc/709776/