Legal Thesaurus

Salus populi (est) suprema lex

The safety of the people is the supreme law.

A company seeking acquisition of land by the application of this Act, may be a charitable or educational institution, or it may be even a profiteering concern. In either case the basic principle of “salus populi est suprema lex” applies, and the essential requirement laid down in section 40(1) is that the acquisition is needed for a purpose which is likely to prove useful to the public. [Section 28, Land Acquisition Act, 1894].

As already observed, the sovereign power of every State has authority to appropriate for purpose of public utility lands situated within the limits of its jurisdiction. The principle underlying acquisition by State of private property rests upon the famous maxim salus populi est suprema lex, that is , the welfare of the people or of the public, is the paramount law, and also on the maxim necessitas publica major est quam privata which means, “public necessity is greater than private”. “The law imposed it on every subject that he prefers the urgent service of his Prince and Country, before the safety of his life.”

Regard for the public welfare is the highest law. [Hira Tikkoo v.Union Territory, Chandigarh, (2004) 6 SCC 765].

See also Indian Handicrafts Emporium v. Union of India, (2003) 7 SCC 589.


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