While common lands and waters are being stolen by investors and developers the world over, the Supreme Court of India decided it was not going to look the other way. In a bold, surprising ruling, the Court made a sweeping defense of the commons as commons.
In the January 28 decision, the Court held that the enclosure of a village pond in Rohar Jagir, Tehsil, in the State of Punjab, by real estate developers was a totally illegal occupation of the commons. The developers, who were appealing a lower court ruling, had filled in the pond with soil and started building houses on it. The Court ruled in unmistakable terms that the pond/land must revert to the commoners immediately and the illegal occupiers must be evicted. Even more remarkable, the Court held that similar enclosures of common lands elsewhere in India must be reversed even if they have been in effect for years. (Thanks, Trent Schroyer, for alerting me to this case!)
You can read the 12-page decision by Markandey Katju here [pdf file]. Given the ideological capture of American jurisprudence, it is astonishing and inspirational for me to encounter a no-nonsense affirmation of the rights of commoners by the highest court of any nation.