Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Land Acquisition, Development and the Constitution

In an article published in this month's Seminar Magazine, I argue that the debates surrounding the adoption of a fundamental right to property in the Constitution were centred around the somewhat paradoxical desire to achieve a liberal democratic legal order which guaranteed the rights to liberty, equality and property, while simultaneously embarking on a transformation of the economic and social order considered imperative to prevent a revolution. This transformation was pegged on a development strategy involving a move from a feudal agrarian to a capital intensive industrial society. A major component of this transformative agenda was land reform, involving zamindari abolition and redistribution of land among the landless peasants. Equally important, however, was state planned industrial growth and encouragement of growth of private industry. 

The article goes on to assess the history of land acquisition laws in this country against this backdrop. In particular, it analyses the key features of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, including the major problems with its implementation. It then analyses the proposed Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, with a view to determining the extent to which the bill addresses the problems with the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. Finally, the article describes the special constitutional provisions for the Scheduled Areas as contained in the Fifth and Sixth Schedules and analyses to what extent the LARR bill is compliant with existing constitutional guarantees.

The article can be accessed at this link. I have previously written about the fundamental right to property and issues of land acquisition in the context of development here, here, and here

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