SC issues notices to five States on amendments in 2013 Land Acquisition Act.

The Supreme Court on Monday decided to examine a plea challenging the legality of amendments brought in by Tamil Nadu and four other States, which allow authorities to bypass the need to take farmers’ consent before their land is acquired for big-ticket infrastructure projects.


A Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta issued notice to Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Jharkhand governments for amending their States’ land acquisition laws to the extent that consent of farmers or land owners is not required before their land is acquired for projects like industrial corridors, expressways, highways, etc.

The petition filed by activist Medha Patkar, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, said the States allow land acquisitions without social impact assessment, participation of representative local bodies like gram sabha in social impact assessment study, expert appraisal processes, public hearing, objections, and safeguard provisions to safeguard food security, etc.

The petitions said the States’ amendments violate the “core spirit” of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013. The 2013 Act mandates that70% of the affected land owners should consent to the acquisition of land for a public private participation (PPP) project. The 2013 Act had uprooted it’s colonial predecessor of the year 1894 and was intended to uphold the farmer’s right to dignity and life to include the right to be not unnecessarily displaced.

“The States have removed the consent clause of PPP, paving the way for many private projects that are running under the grab of PPP. Tax payers’ money is spent while acquiring land and creating infrastructure but private players take away the maximum share at the profit-making stage,” Ms. Patkar argued.

Mr. Bhushan submitted in court that the amendments, which “emasculate” the 2013 Act, brought by the States were similar to a central ordinance promulgated in December 2014. The central ordinance eventually lapsed in August 2015, following which, the “stage shifted to the States”

“Several States have sought to implement the content of the ordinance by routing it through their respective State legislatures,” the petition said.

The States’ amendments have caused a huge uproar in the agrarian community with farmers from Tamil Nadu leading protests which have gained national attention. Gujarat was the first State to amend the land acquisition law.

The court, however, refused to intervene with States like Himachal Pradesh and Manipur, which have amended their rules but not touched the main Act. Justice Lokur said the petitioner should approach the respective high courts in such States. (Source: The Hindu)

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