The law and practice of land acquisition has historically been a hugely contentious issue in India. The British colonial state enacted a number of laws, the most important of which was the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, to facilitate the state's takeover of land pursuant to its power of eminent domain. This law was in force for a 119 years, until its repeal and replacement by the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (the “LARR Act, 2013”). On 31 December, 2014, the Union government notified the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement(Amendment) Ordinance, 2014 (the “LARR Ordinance, 2014”), which substantially amended the provisions of the LARR Act, 2013. The LARR Ordinance, 2014 was re-promulgated twice but a bill to replace the Ordinance, ("the LARR Amendment Bill, 2015") was not passed into law. The government's inability to garner parliamentary support to pass the LARR Amendment Bill, 2015, into a country wide law, testifies to the intense and continued political contestation regarding this subject.
Despite its persistent and polarising nature, the debate on land acquisition has been marked by a lack of systematic and comprehensive data in support of particular positions. Existing studies on land acquisition have tended to focus on particular issues, like compensation, or on particular conflicts, or have been otherwise limited in terms of geography and time. In this study, the Land Rights Initiative team will present findings from a systematic study of all cases on land acquisition decided by the Supreme Court of India from 1950 to 2015. The LRI team analysed these cases along various metrics, such as public purpose, procedure, compensation, invocation of the urgency clause, pendency of claims, and tracked trends with respect to distribution of conflicts across geography and time, and central and state laws. This is the first comprehensive country wide study of land acquisition disputes since India's independence. In this seminar, the LRI team will present our findings from this study and describe questions for future research.
Dr Namita Wahi is a Fellow at CPR and Director of the Land Rights Initiative. Namita holds a doctoral degree from Harvard Law School (SJD' 14) where she wrote her dissertation on “The Right to Property and Economic Development in India”. Namita’s research interests are broadly in the areas of property rights, social and economic rights, and eminent domain law, and she has taught course in these areas at Harvard University and NUJS, Kolkata. Namita has written extensively on these issues in academic journals and edited volumes, as well as newspapers and magazines, and has spoken about these issues on prime time television. Previously, Namita worked as a litigator at Davis Polk and Wardwell, a prominent New York city law firm, where she practised primarily in the areas of bankruptcy, securities and criminal defence law. Namita also holds an LL.M. from Harvard Law School (2005) and B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) degrees from National Law School, Bangalore (2004).
Pallav Shukla is a senior associate with Trilegal, a prominent law firm in India and a legal consultant with the CPR Land Rights Initiative. Pallav holds degrees in law from Harvard Law School (LL.M. '15) and from ILS Law College, University of Pune (LL.B. '10). He has served as law clerk to Hon'ble Mr. Justice SH Kapadia, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India. Pallav has extensive work experience as a litigator with a primary focus on commercial disputes and white-collar criminal defence work. His research interests span a variety of topics, but mainly focus on property law, corruption and money laundering and related litigation.
Ankit Bhatia is a research associate at CPR. Ankit holds an M.Sc. and B.Sc. in Economics from IIT Kharagpur, where he was honoured with the "Best Dissertation" award. His research interests are broadly in the areas of political economy and law and economics. Previously, Ankit worked as a consultant at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy and interned at the Delhi School of Economics, and Planning Commission, Government of India.
This seminar will be followed by lunch. Registration is mandatory. To register, please click here.