Last night my flatmate and I were discussing Indian Economics and Politics with his parents. He mentioned a property rights case his uncle is fighting in the courts that gives a clear indication of the nature of property rights in India. His uncle owns ancestral property in a North Indian State. The property includes a house and some land around it. Since the family has moved away to live in a different city, they used the house as an occassional vacation home. A little over a decade ago, the state government approached them to rent the property. They had no plans to rent the place and so they declined the over. A year after this episode, someone visiting the village noticed that the house that was supposed to be locked up was being lived in. The person living in the house was the State High Court judge. When asked to vacate the property, he refused saying the government had given him the property. The owners have been fighting a case against the government for 12 years now. It does not seem likely that they will get their property back.
The irony is that the justice system which is supposed to arbiter such cases is party to this property rights theft. For every single progressive step the country makes, it slides down several thanks to a judicial and legislative system that exists to loot the common man of his hard earned property. It is a miracle that progress occurs in India in spite of these blatant misuses of the law and non-protection of private property.