Research Paper: Evolution of Property Rights in India

EVOLUTION OF PROPERTY RIGHTS IN INDIA:  Lessons from the past, possibilities for the future by Madhumita Datta Mitra* Right to property is framed as a human right under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is recognized as a fundamental right in most democracies. It is one of the most controversial of rights, always in need of an appropriate definition suited to a nation’s political, social and economic conditions. While all liberal constitutions allow for certain reasonable restrictions on an absolute right to property for some public good, the challenge facing every country is where to draw the line against state interference into a person’s right to own and enjoy property. Download [PDF] I. Introduction In 1950, independent India drafted into its new Constitution a set of fundamental rights for its citizens to free speech, peaceful assembly, association, to move freely throughout the territory, to reside and settle in any part of the country, “to acquire, hold and dispose of property”, and to practice any profession, or carry on any occupation, trade or business. The Constitution also gave the nation an independent judiciary. Of all the fundamental rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution, the right to property has been persistently under attack from the Executive. Political philosophies of the day claimed a need to set right historical wrongs. Whittling down property rights through repeated subversion of the Constitution was the chosen path. This pitted the Executive against the Judiciary, while the former claimed mandate from the people, the latter saw itself to be the final arbiter on the Constitution as framed by the founding fathers. Undermining of the right...

Tribal Affairs Ministry’s Directive: Don’t rush forest rights, Centre tells states

Tribal Affairs Ministry’s Directive: Don’t rush forest rights, Centre tells states On April 28, the then MoTA secretary wrote to the states expressing hope that the process would be “completed within the current year”. by Jay Mazoomdaar, Indian Express, New Delhi, August 13, 2015 In “campaign mode” since April this year, when the Prime Minister set a December deadline for settling claims under the Forest Rights Act, the Tribal Affairs Ministry has now warned state governments against riding roughshod in their hurry to meet the target. “It is emphasised that the (earlier) request of the ministry that the states implement the Forest Rights Act in a proactive and time-bound manner should not be interpreted to mean bypassing the requirements of the said Act and Rules in any manner,” the ministry wrote in a directive issued on August 10. [MoTA’s letter dated Aug 10, 2015, is available here. http://tribal.nic.in/WriteReadData/CMS/Documents/201508121054481498449FRA.pdf] It went on to caution that “the Forest Rights Act implemented in haste may lead to perpetuation of the historical injustice against forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers which the Act seeks to correct”. At the second PRAGATI (Pro-Active Governance And Timely Implementation) meeting on April 22, PM Narendra Modi had said that “vesting of forest rights on tribals and traditional dwellers is a critical step for empowerment and progress” and the “ministry and state governments need to work in campaign mode to cover those still deprived of their rights”. On April 28, the then MoTA secretary wrote to the states expressing hope that the process would be “completed within the current year”. Under the FRA, three types of...

MoTA issues guidelines on the use of GIS to assess claims under FRA

Ministry of tribal affairs has issued “Guidelines with regard to the use of Geo referencing for assessment of potential areas and re-examination of rejected claims under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA)”, on July 27 2015. Following are a few extracts from the letter addressed to Chief Secretaries of all the state governments. … … … 3. The Ministry had received reports which suggest that large number of claims have been rejected due to lack of evidence or incomplete evidence. It may be noted that as per Rule 6(b) of Forest Rights Rules, district administration in general and the SDLC in particular are expected to assist the Gram Sabhas and the FRCs by providing forest and revenue maps. In this context geo-referenced maps may be generated and be provided to Gram Sabhas, and FRCs. Accordingly claims rejected on the grounds of insufficient evidences or which prima-facie requires additional examination may be re-examined. 4. It is being reiterated that the use of any technology, such as, satellite imagery, should be used to supplement evidence tendered by a claimant for consideration of the claim and not to replace other evidences submitted by him in support of his claims as the only form of evidence. If rights have already been recognised in favour of a claimant, the same may not be reopened. 5. Through Geographical Information System (GIS), maps can be prepared for implementing agencies, regarding the eligible areas for the implementation of FRA where maps can be drawn at different administrative levels like nation, state, district, block and village. With the use...

MH: JNPT Liquid Bulk Terminal Project

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given green signal for the development of an additional liquid bulk terminal at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), Navi Mumbai. The estimated total cost would be Rs 2496 crore. The award would be on highest ‘Royalty’ basis. The project will be taken up for implementation under the private public partnership (PPP) mode on design, build, finance, operate and transfer (DBFOT) basis. The project is envisaged to be implemented in two phases with overall capacity as 26.6 million tonnes per annum (MTPA). Phase I envisages construction of four berths to accommodate vessels size up to 180,000 Dead Weight Tonnage (DWT) with a capacity of 15 MTPA. Phase II envisages construction of two additional berths for 180,000 DWT vessels with a capacity of 11.6 MTPA. The project would enhance the liquid bulk cargo handling capacity of JNPT from the existing 5.5 MTPA to 20.5 MTPA by 2017-18 when Phase-I is expected to be commissioned. Capacity would go up to 32.1 MTPA with the commissioning of Phase-II by 2025-26. This infrastructure will facilitate industrial growth in the hinterland and also reduce transaction cost for users who are suffering high waiting time in the existing berths. The project will also create, additional employment opportunities and lead to socio-economic development of the region. Private participation is expected to improve efficiency in handling of bulk liquid cargo through state-of-the-art technology and also by applying improved management...

SK: Rail link from West Bengal requires gram sabha approval under FRA

A train to Sikkim continues to be a distant possibility despite the fact that it has been a priority project for the Union government. The 52.7km rail link between Sevoke in West Bengal and Rangpo in Sikkim was supposed to be ready by December 2015, but is now stuck in a procedural tangle. The Rs.3,380-crore project will take up around 86 hectares of forest land, which needs clearance from the Union environment ministry. But prior to that, under the Forest Rights Act, 2006, the project needs to be cleared by local gram sabhas. However, in this case, the Kurseong and Kalimpong divisions of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council do not have panchayats. “The main problem is, India’s Constitution exempts Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council area from having a district panchayat. But as per the Forest Rights Act, 2006, permission from gram sabha is required for diversion of forest area. However, in the absence of a panchayat and a go-ahead from them, we have not been able to clear the project,” said an environment ministry official who did not wished to be named. Though the ministry’s forest advisory committee cleared the project in September 2014 subject to gram sabha approval, the ministry of tribal affairs has refused its approval. According to documents reviewed by Mint, the tribal affairs ministry stated that the Forest Rights Act, 2006, does not provide any exemptions in procedure when it comes to the gram sabha nod for diversion of forest...

KE: Land acquisition next hurdle for ring road to Vizhinjam port

Union minister for road, transport and highways Nitin Gadkari’s recent approval for the proposal of a NH ring road in the district has brought an end to worries that the Vizhinjam project could lead to traffic congestion. The NH wing of the state PWD had submitted a proposal for a Rs 1,500-crore project for widening the road which passes through Balaramapuram, Uchhakada, Mukkola, Vizhinjam Seaport Junction (Mulloor), Pulinkudi, Chappath, Pulluvila, Chavadi, Kanjiramkulam, Pazhayakada, Olathanni and Neyyatinkara. The Union minister, however, gave an in-principal approval for only Rs 1,200 crore, of which around Rs 400 crore will be used for construction alone. The current width of the road is just 12 metres and the carriageway available is 5.5 metres. The proposal is to widen the stretch to 45 metres. Around 200 acres of additional land will be required. “Now people get better compensation as land prices are fixed by the district-level purchase committee. So we hope there won’t be major hurdles for acquisition,” an NH official said. Development of Vizhinjam port is expected to bring huge containers into the district, making better connectivity a crucial factor for the successful functioning of the port. The development of the road connecting Vizhinjam seaport, NH bypass and Karamana-Kaliyikkavila would accelerate the state’s industrial and economic growth. The proposed road starts at Balaramapuram on national highway 47, connects Vizhinjam port and ends at Neyyatinkara on NH...

AP: Centre Ready to Fund Land Acquisition for Nellore Port

Dugarajapatnam Port in Nellore district appears to have hit a road block. Though it has been promised in the AP State Reorganisation Act, 2014, it is not clear when the Central government would redeem it. The main problem the Centre is facing with respect of the port is that necessary land has not yet acquired by the state government. “The port needs approximately 1,000 acres of land, but so far, nothing has happened on this front,” highly placed sources said. The state government has expressed its inability to fund land acquisition as it is hard up for money. This made the Centre come out with an offer of funding the land acquisition and asked the latter to begin the process but the state government has not come around to it. “The state government’s priorities are different. For us it may be important but for the state which is the agency for land acquisition, it does not appear to be on its priorities list,” a senior BJP leader said, adding that unless the state government acquires the land and hands it over to the Centre, we cannot do anything. Dugarajapatnam Port is a proposed seaport under the control of the Union government. It was estimated to cost `8,000 crore and it is proposed to be set up under Indian Companies Act 1956 with equity participation from the state government. When the project was envisaged during the erstwhile Congress regime in the state, it ran into rough whether with objections being raised as Pulicat Lake and ISRO’s rocket launching station at Srihari Kota are very close by. There was objection from...

TR: BJP threatens agitation on displacement of tribals

The Tripura unit of BJP today said it will resort to agitation against the state’s Left Front government if they tried to evict 12,000 tribals from the Longterai hill range to set up a firing range for the Assam Rifles. “The state government decided to evict the tribals in the name of setting up a firing range in the hills of Longterai in Dhalai district. We will launch an indefinite satyagraha movement if the government attempts to displace the tribals. Government documents in this regard are available to us,” BJP state president Sudhindra Dasgupta told reporters. Dasgupta said the tribals have been living in 32 hamlets there for more than 100 years and were given ‘patta’ (title deeds) and allotted forest lands under the Forest Rights...

GJ: Farmers protest land acquisition for industrial hub

Farmers in Gujarat’s Dholera region, about 100 km from Ahmedabad, are fiercely opposed to their agricultural land being taken away for an ambitious industrial project backed by Chief Minister Narendra Modi.The Dholera Special Investment Region was announced by the state government in 2009. Spread over 920 square kilometer area, the project aims to create a global manufacturing and trading hub in the state.Despite protest by the farmers, the state government carried out surveys and land acquisition in the area. In October last year, notices were sent to the villagers informing them that their land was being acquired. While the state government has been maintaining a silence over the issue, the district administration says the villagers would be adequately...

TN: Villagers protest land acquisition for Tiruvallur reservoir project

Amidst opposition from villagers, the Water Resources Department (WRD) is looking to expedite the creation of a reservoir in Thervoy Kandigai and Kannankottai villages in Tiruvallur district to store and supply water to Chennai. A major chunk of the necessary land has been acquired.With nearly 750 acres of patta lands handed over for the project, the WRD plans to start the major work of linking the two water bodies in Thervoy Kandigai and Kannankottai to form a reservoir. This would hold 1,000 million cubic feet of water when filled twice.The WRD and Tiruvallur district administration have been facing protests from the villagers, particularly in Kannankottai. Of the 800 acres of patta lands needed for the Rs. 330 crore project, nearly 600 acres fall in Kannankottai village. Last week, the department started the process of providing interim compensation to land owners in these villages, officials...

MH: Raigad farmers to protest forceful land acquisition

Farmers from 78 villages of Mangaon, Roha and Tala tehsil in Raigad district will be protesting on Wednesday against the alleged forceful land acquisition for Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project. The farmers, who are organized under the banner of Anti-Corridor Struggle Action Committee, will protest the acquisition of 67,500 acres for the Dighi Port Industrial area in Raigad district. They claim that the agitation is to save their agricultural land and livelihoods. They will march to the Sub Divisional Office of the land acquisition authority located at Mangoan in the morning.A member of the committee, Ulka Mahajan said, “The project will render farmers from 78 villages landless and also snatch away their allied livelihood. All the panchayats have unanimously resolved not to give away their land. They have been agitating for 18 months.” She added that the Central government and the then-CEO of the DMIC asked the state government to drop Dighi Port from DMIC project. Despite this move, the state government is acquiring the land, ‘without the consent of the land...

KE: Elderly woman murdered, family arrested

According to Adoor police, they arrested Perladka native Kamalakshan (47), his wife Ambika (40) and their son Sharath (20) on the charge of smothering Ammalu Amma, Kamalakshan’s 68-year-old mother on Tuesday night and hanging it from the ceiling of their house to create the impression that she committed suicide.However, the relatives of the victim were suspicious about it and when the autopsy was conducted, it was established that the victim was strangled to death and then the body was hung from the ceiling. Police said Ammalu Amma was a quarry worker and she had frequent quarrel with her son and family after they sold a property in her name and bought some other properties. The elderly woman wanted the new properties to be registered in her name, which her son did not agree, which led to the...