Opinion: Refine land acquisition course of to unclog courts

In Maharashtra’s Amravati, Beed and Raigad districts, land acquisition instances on common remained pending between 1,516 days and a couple of,462 days.

By Leah Verghese

The talk over the current Karnataka Land Reforms (Modification) Ordinance has introduced into focus the contestations over land in rural India. Conflicts over land type a big proportion of civil litigation in India. DAKSH’s Entry to Justice 2017 survey confirmed 29.3% of civil disputes involved land and property. Other than disputes between personal events over inheritance, encroachment and eviction, there’s widespread litigation over the obligatory acquisition of land by the state.

DAKSH performed a examine of land acquisition litigation in six districts and the Excessive Courts of two states, Maharashtra and Karnataka between 2008 and 2018 to grasp the character and causes of such litigation. These instances relate each to the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (‘1894 Act’) earlier than 2013, and the brand new Proper to Truthful Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (‘2013 Act’).

In Maharashtra’s Amravati, Beed and Raigad districts, land acquisition instances on common remained pending between 1,516 days and a couple of,462 days. In Amravati and Beed, execution instances in land acquisition took inordinately lengthy to get disposed. Execution instances right here often are for cost of the compensation quantity. These delays in execution point out critical flaws within the administration of the method, particularly the cost of compensation by the state. If the state takes 1,424 days to merely pay cash to an individual whose land has been acquired, it factors to a extreme lack of planning within the govt processes.

In Bengaluru Rural, Mysuru and Kalaburagi in Karnataka, land acquisition instances remained pending between 729 days and 4,038 days. In Mysuru and Kalaburagi, the big quantity of enchantment instances earlier than the district courts signifies a basic proclivity to enchantment within the expectation of upper compensation or notion of not having been handled pretty. This tendency to enchantment persists regardless of the prospect of the case remaining pending for years, indicating that the perceived advantages of a beneficial order from the appellate court docket far outweigh the litigants’ transaction prices by way of time, effort and cash.

Circumstances involving a problem to compensation constituted 52.9% and 51% of the land acquisition litigation earlier than the Bombay and Karnataka Excessive Courts, respectively. Amongst such instances, reference courts (district courts listening to appeals from the choice of the land acquisition officer) have nearly all the time enhanced compensation owed to landowners. Regardless of the rise in compensation by the reference courts, individuals nonetheless approached Excessive Courts, searching for an extra improve in compensation. The Bombay Excessive Court docket enhanced compensation in 46.8% of the instances and the Karnataka Excessive Court docket did so in 41%. It might be truthful to conclude that insufficient compensation, coupled with a development of courts growing compensation, incentivised landowners to litigate.

The opposite main purpose for litigation on the excessive court docket stage is procedural irregularities. The most typical procedural irregularities alleged have been associated to the preliminary notification of acquisition, declaration of public goal and invocation of the urgency provision. These echo one of many main criticisms of the Land Acquisition Act 1894, of unbridled govt discretion. This type of discretion led to quite a lot of room for arbitrary actions, varied interpretations of statutory provisions and therefore created fertile floor for litigation.

The 2013 Land Acquisition Act has decreased govt discretion to find out compensation and has delineated the ambit of ‘urgency’ and ‘public goal’. Nevertheless, the brand new provisions referring to compensation, social affect evaluation, rehabilitation and resettlement nonetheless go away scope for govt discretion and therefore the potential of protracted litigation.

State governments must create tips and arrange protocols that slender the scope of govt discretion and therefore create extra equitable outcomes for all events involved. It might be helpful to have nodal officers on the department-level to keep away from and comprise litigation.

The 2013 Act has additionally ousted the jurisdiction of district courts over land acquisition, and references from Collectors’ awards now lie with an authority to be created underneath the Act. Nevertheless, a number of states are but to ascertain these authorities seven years after these have been mandated. It’s crucial that state governments challenge tips on implementation and set up these authorities. Any adjustments in land legal guidelines will fall quick on expectations except the fundamental infrastructure for dispute prevention and determination is in place.

The creator is Analysis supervisor, DAKSH, Bengaluru.

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