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An Analysis of the Realm of the Human Body through the Laws of Poperty

ABSTRACT

This article explores the concept of human body rights throughout history and in the current legal system. It argues that the human body is fundamentally different from traditional property and that current legal frameworks struggle to define ownership of the body and its parts. The analysis examines historical perspectives, including Roman law and the Justinian school of thought. Contemporary legal debates are highlighted through recent precedents set by Courts of Law. The unresolved questions such as how the liberal philosophies impact the current discussions and whether or not the Human Body is a separate entity with ownership rights are also raised here.

CENTRAL ARGUMENT

The article’s main argument is that conventional property law faces a special challenge from the human body. The human body and its products (cells, organs) are hard to classify under current legal frameworks, unlike land or objects. This ambiguity makes it necessary to reassess the philosophical and legal definitions of property ownership in light of societal shifts and technological improvements.

 

INTRODUCTION

It is clear by looking at the many aspects of property law and the tenets of property rights that these ideas came about when people began to perceive objects as belonging to them. Among them are kingdoms, lands, decorations, bonds, and sometimes even the natural world. But the first thing a person has a right to call their own after birth is their body. The multiple organs comprised in the wide range of organ systems each have diverse functions, differentiate at birth to fulfill certain roles, etc. And we as a being with consciousness have rights and ownership attached to it. This article examines human body rights from the time of the Titans to the modern democratic era in order to better understand how laws, rules, morality, and philosophical understandings have developed in the particular domain of the human body as property or a right over one’s own body. The purpose of this study piece is to emphasize that the human body is, possibly, the most important aspect that unifies social, legal, biological, and anthropological principles. With the development of technology, the domain of the human body and vested rights grows, and it is the responsibility of the law to keep up with these developments by expanding and becoming more comprehensive as necessary. Reproductive technologies such as artificial insemination and kidney donation that save the lives of family members are examples of this, as are the use of cadavers to teach medical students. In order to compare them with contemporary issues, this article looks at the legal and philosophical frameworks that currently govern the property rights of the human body.

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

THE PRINCIPLE ACCESSIO

This illustrates the Roman paradigm of jurisprudential reasoning, which rests on a foundational idea but keeps it tightly bound. The legal term “ACCESS′SIO” designates a union of two objects such that one is seen as a component portion of the other; one is regarded as the principal, and the other as an addition or accession to it. There are situations when it can be unclear which should be regarded as the main item and which as an addition. However, the owner of the major item, whatever it may be, also acquired ownership of the accession. The most widely accepted type of accesio is that which results from the union of an object with the ground; once the object and the ground are fully united, the object belongs to the person who owns the ground. Buildings that are constructed on another person’s land belong to the owner of the original land, unless they have been constructed of movable materials.

The Justinian school of thought, which maintains that something is either owned by the person who created it or that it does not belong to them at all and is instead the property of the person who created it, is another concept that is closely related to a framework of discussion regarding the origins of the idea that the human body is property. It was also expressed this kind of thinking when acknowledged that the central idea of the Roman school of law was that property belonged to the creator rather than the owner, or the other way around.

If we consider a human cell or any other kind of cell that is truly only used in laboratory conditions and research initiatives. It is crucial to understand that sometimes specimens from procedures like biopsies, such as blood samples or pieces of microscopic tissue structures may be needed. When a lab researcher is working with a sample of blood leucocytes, thrombocytes, or tissues, for example, an individual has the right to possess certain types of cells in certain circumstances. Likewise, in the event that a protein or any kind of segmental DNA is separated, the lab’s researcher and, on occasion, the lab itself have a right to property in a noticeable separation. There are situations in which it may be necessary to question samples of human body or lineal tissue. Under the Material Transfer Agreement, these particular assets are specifically covered.

THEORY OF ATTACHMENT

It is a Doctrine brought forth by the Western Countries which could be briefly explained as anything that is no longer owned by you or is not connected to your body is not your property. For instance, donating your blood to a hospital.

THE DILEMMA OF THE OWNERSHIP OF THE HUMAN BODY IN THE PRESENT WORLD

Various cases have been reported to courts across the globe in a variety of formats, including the assignment of a right to reclaim property that has been pilfered, such as human body parts, blood samples, and even spermatocytes. When it comes to figuring out whether a right to property or a right to inherit property can be linked to a conflict between a legislator and a court of law, all of these cases have shown that the common law leaves no space for interpretation.

The three fundamental tenets of modern property law are deposition, exclusion, and possession. It is challenging to distinguish precisely between the three fundamental qualities of these features and the human body as a whole. Consequently, it is imperative to examine these components from an opposing perspective. If our problems with the existing principles of property law cannot be resolved, there are two ways in which we might address the ambiguity in line with these criteria that we apply to establish who is the owner of the human body and its products.

While taking a different approach to investigating the legal perspective on the concept of the human body instead of trying to reach a conclusive answer to the question of whether or not a human body is property. In the case of R v. Bentham, a man who was suspected of possessing a firearm but was actually holding his hands under his jacket was found not to have been liable under possession when the court ruled that an unreserved hand could not be considered a competent thing. A person’s hand or even a finger is not a thing at all because they do not exist and do not understand property in the sense of a separate object.

In another case Yearworth v. North Bristol NHS Trust, The court made an effort to discuss the possibility that a man’s donated sperm could be inherited by his spouse. The decision appeared to take precedence over the established hospital protocols regarding admittance or rejection of patients’ sperm assistance. Furthermore, it was thought that while coming to this decision should most likely be from the standpoint of common sense or even a common law principle. It had been determined that semen kept in storage belongs to an individual and can be inherited.

As a result, it is evident to us that the common law court has established numerous cases that explain the discussion surrounding property rights concerning the human body as well as technology, biological development aids, legislation, and societal developments.

The subject of corpses being used by medical students to be taught about anatomy and, whether a body devoid of soul should be regarded as a thing or not was recently raised by the courts, however as of right now, the property right of a deceased corpse remains unrecognized. However, the common law theory of today has changed to reflect the advancements in medical technology, requiring that a dead body be distinguished from a body employed for study.

THE QUESTION “IS THE HUMAN BODY VIABLE TO BE A PROPERTY?” IN INDIA

Given that people had total ownership over their bodies, it should have been legal to sell one’s body for prostitution, end one’s life by euthanasia, or receive payment for donating one’s organs. According to a similar line of reasoning, exercising the right to exercise should not be affected by drug usage, poisoning consumption, or building jumping. Unquestionably, these rights are an essential component of ownership. Such practices are however usually condemned/prohibited and carry criminal repercussions in our country.

Thus, it can be said that humans do not legally have whole or absolute ownership over their bodies based on the ideas above. Nonetheless, it appears that there are two circumstances in which a person’s property rights may be recognized by the law, such as when:

The person is dead, their autonomy is no longer relevant and they are no longer the original occupant of the body.

The body’s components can either be separated or regenerate, and they don’t seem to be inextricably connected to a person’s ability to survive and be autonomous. The original occupant of the body retains full capacity to make decisions even after they are removed.

CONCLUSION

It can be observed that there is a lack of a precise definition of “property” by relating property principles to the human body. It is crucial to understand that the concept of a right to property, such as land or other immovable property, is distinct from the concept of a property right related to a human body and its derivatives. The most crucial thing to keep in mind, therefore, considering the case law and historical debates, is that the fundamental questions we must ask ourselves are “What is Property according to law” and “What is Property that is based on philosophy.” It is questioned whether a liberal approach philosophy should or shouldn’t be used to try to rationalize a situation where the idea that the human body is an independent institution. The relationship between property rights and individual liberty is just one of the several subjects that could lead to conversation.

It is indisputable that technology and other cutting-edge innovations have had an immense effect on molding our civilization. It acts as a counterbalance to the notion that shifts in society will unavoidably have an impact on the state and, thus, state laws. It might be necessary to amend laws and philosophical frameworks in light of these technological breakthroughs, which permits us to understand the profound changes that the legal profession has experienced recently, as well as the consequences that have ensued.

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Article written by – Gnaneswarran Beemarao

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“Supreme Court Rules Out Easement by Necessity in Presence of Alternative Property Access”

Case title: Manisha Mahendra Gala & Ors. V. Shalini Bhagwan Avatramani & Ors.

Case no.: Civil Appeal No. 9643 Of 2010

Dated on: 10th April 2024

Quorum: Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra

FACTS OF THE CASE

In the legal realm, disputes often arise over property rights, particularly when it comes to access and usage of shared pathways or roads. The case of Manisha Mahendra Gala & Ors. vs. Shalini Bhagwan Avatramani & Ors., hereafter referred to as the Gala case, delves into the intricacies of easementary rights over a 20ft. wide road situated on land owned by the respondents, the Ramani family. The Supreme Court of India, through its judgment dated April 10, 2024, provided a detailed analysis of the facts, submissions, issues, and the ultimate legal decision.

The dispute revolves around a 20ft. wide road located on Survey No.57 Hissa No.13A/1, presently owned by the Ramani family. The appellants, Gala family, claimed easementary rights over this road for access to their property, Survey No. 48 Hissa No.15. The Gala family argued that they had been using the road for many years and that their access to their land depended solely on this pathway. The case stemmed from two separate suits: Suit No.14 of 1994 filed by Joki Woler Ruzer (later succeeded by Mahendra Gala and then the Gala family) for declaration of easementary rights, and Suit No.7 of 1996 filed by the Ramani family to declare the Gala family’s lack of rights over the road.

CONTENTIONS OF THE APPELLANT

The appellants, represented by senior counsel Shri Huzefa Ahmadi, contended that the Gala family’s usage of the road for many years granted them easementary rights. They also argued that the Sale Deed dated 17.09.1994, transferring land to Mahendra Gala, acknowledged their right of way over the road.

CONTENTIONS OF THE RESPONDENTS

On the other hand, the respondents, represented by counsel Shri Devansh Anoop Mohta, disputed the Gala family’s claims, asserting that they had no legal right to the road.

ISSUE

  • Whether the appellants have acquired easementary rights over the disputed road.
  • Whether the findings of the lower courts were valid and justifiable.
  • Whether the Sale Deed dated 17.09.1994 conferred easementary rights.

COURT’S ANALYSIS AND JUDGEMENT

The Court analyzed the evidence presented and legal precedents. It concluded that the appellants failed to establish uninterrupted use of the road for over 20 years, a requirement for acquiring easementary rights by prescription. The Sale Deed did not confer such rights, as the appellants’ predecessors did not possess them. Additionally, the Court rejected the argument of easementary rights by necessity, as there was an alternative access route available. It upheld the decisions of the lower courts, dismissing the appellants’ appeals.

The Supreme Court dismissed the appeals, ruling that the appellants had not acquired easementary rights over the disputed road. The judgement reaffirmed the principle that factual findings of lower courts can be reviewed by appellate courts, and highlighted the importance of clear evidence in establishing legal rights.

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Judgement Reviewed by – Chiraag K A

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Additional compensation would not be granted in cases where the limitation period has barred and when an alternative remedy is available – Bombay HC

TITLE : Sardar v The state of Maharashtra

CORAM : Hon’ble Justice Ravindra v Ghuge

DATE :  15th  January 2024

CITATION : WP No. 14842 Of 2023

FACTS

The petition was filed under Article 226 and 227 of the constitution of India. The petitioner’s case was that his land was acquired by the government for public project under Section 4 of the Land acquisition Act,1894. A compensation of Rs. 1,26,110 was granted and it did not consider the value of 40 teak trees, 25 mango trees, 35 berry trees and 2 gooseberry trees and a well attached to the land. The petitioner has asked for an enhancement of compensation. It was contended that the petitioner had not used alternative remedies under Section18 of the Act. The petitioners father has received the compensation of Rs. 1,45, 566 without any protest.

LAWS INVOLVED

As per Section 18 of the Act, any person who has not accepted the compensation to make an application to the collector within a period of 6 weeks from the date of the award, if the interested person represented before the collector was present of in any other cases, within 6 months of the award.

ISSUES

Whether the petitioner entitled to additional compensation?

JUDGEMENT

The court held that the petitioner’s father has already received the compensation without any protest. The court found that no reference was made under Section 18 of the Act. The court in furtherance held that the petitioner has approached this court after 18 years withtout availaing alternative remedy available in law.

The writ was found to be without any merits and was subsequently dismissed.

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Bombay HC calls demolition notice against the legal system, sets aside notice against shiv Sena member

TITLE : Sadanand Gangaram Kadam V Additional Commissioner, Konkan Bhavan and Ors

CORAM : Hon’ble Justice Milind N. Jadhav

DATE :  6th January 2024

CITATION : WP No. 203 Of 2024

FACTS

The present Writ Petition was against Demolition Notice against the petitioner. The petitioner purchased a property of a firm called M/s. Sai Star Distributors. One of the 5 partners were the respondent and the petitioner. The respondent retired from the firm and the share of his property was shifted to the petitioner. The petitioner then constructed a resort after obtaining permission from the appropriate authorities. It was submitted that NA permission was received and in the miscellaneous conditions, any dispute with respect to ownership of the said land would be on the Petitioner in the event of any dispute. The respondent filed a private complaint alleging a breach of the NA permission granted. Petitioner filed statutory Appeal under Section 247 of the Maharashtra Land Revenue Code, 1966 before the Additional Collector along with the stay Application. Subsequently a demolition notice was issued.

LAWS INVOLVED

Section 247 of the Act :

(1) In the absence of any express provisions of this Code, or of any law for the time being in force to the contrary, an appeal shall lie from any decision or order passed by a revenue or survey officer specified in column I of the Schedule E under this Code or any other law for the time being in force to the officer specified in column 2 of that Schedule whether or not ,such decision or order may itself have been passed on appeal from the decision of order of the officer specified in column I of the said Schedule :

Provided that, in no case the number of appeals shall exceed two.

(2) When on account of promotion or change of designation, an appeal against any decision or order lies under this section to the same officer who has passed the decision or order appealed against, the appeal should lie to such other officer competent to decide the appeal to whom it may be transferred under the provisions of this Code.

ISSUES

Whether the complaint against the petitioner valid along with the demolition notice issued?

JUDGEMENT

The court held that though there is a statutory appeal pending, the facts are extremely strong and requires intervention of this court so no party can take advantage of the legal system and take is for granted.

The demolition notice was set aside and an ad-interim relief was given to the petitioners.

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The supreme court sets aside the order of Madurai bench on property consideration not being paid; States Time would be the essence of the contract.

TITLE : Alagammal and Ors v Ganesan and Anr

CORAM : Hon’ble Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah and Hon’ble Justice Vikram Nath

DATE :  10th   January 2024

CITATION : Civil Appeal No. 8185 of 2009

FACTS

The appellant got into an agreement with the respondents for the consideration amount of Rs.21000. Out of which Rs.3000 was paid in advance. 6 months has elapsed since the last payment and the appellants did not pay the pending money and subsequently executed a sale deed to a third party for the consideration amount of Rs.22000.

LAWS INVOLVED

The supreme court relied on the judgement of K.S Vaidyanthan which stated that :

‘10.It has been consistently held by the courts in India, following certain early English decisions, that in the case of agreement of sale relating to immovable property, time is not of the essence of the contract unless specifically provided to that effect. The period of limitation prescribed by the Limitation Act for filing a suit is three years. From these two circumstances, it does not follow that any and every suit for specific performance of the agreement (which does not provide specifically that time is of the essence of the contract) should be decreed provided it is filed within the period of limitation notwithstanding the time-limits stipulated in the agreement for doing one or the other thing by one or the other party.”

However the court also stated that in matters of inaction by the purchasing party to buy, time is of the essence :

  1. In the case before us, it is not mere delay. It is a case of total inaction on the part of the plaintiff for 2 1/2 years in clear violation of the terms of agreement which required him to pay the balance, purchase the stamp papers and then ask for execution of sale deed within six months. Further, the delay is coupled with substantial rise in prices — according to the defendants, three times — between the date of agreement and the date of suit notice. The delay has brought about a situation where it would be inequitable to give the relief of specific performance to the plaintiff.

ISSUES

Whether the agreement discloses a fixed time frame for making payment in full?

JUDGEMENT

The court set aside the Madurai bench judgement and holds that there being no willingness to pay the remaining amount, the time is of essence.

“the same being at great intervals and there being no willingness shown by them to pay the remaining amount or getting the Sale Deed ascribed on necessary stamp paper and giving notice to the appellants to execute the Sale Deed, it cannot be said that in the present case, judged on the anvil of the conduct of parties, especially the appellants, time would not remain the essence of the contract.”

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