Mapping Land Legislation in India

Even after seventy years of becoming a republic, land remains the most important economic, social, and cultural resource for the vast majority of Indians. Land provides a measure of security, often not experienced with other economic resources like labour and capital. Unsurprisingly then, on ground conflict over land is the most pervasive and intractable of all conflicts in India, and legal disputes over land are the most important factor responsible for clogging cases in courts, both in terms of number and pendency of such cases. Such legal and extra-legal conflict over land not only threatens India's economic development, but also its social and political stability. Conflicting laws cause legal disputes. Yet, the number and extent of land laws in India is anyone's guess, because there is no existing publicly available comprehensive database of land laws in India. The “Mapping Indian Land Laws” project is an attempt to fill this gap.

The MILL project consists of an interactive exploratory archive of over one thousand colonial and post-colonial central and state laws for a geographically representative sample of eight states, namely, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Meghalaya, Punjab, and Telangana. From land reforms to land acquisition, forest laws to laws applicable to Scheduled Areas, from laws promoting and regulating urban development to laws dealing with evacuee, enemy, ancestral and religious property, this vast legal apparatus governs the lives of ordinary citizens and their interactions with each other and the state.  And yet, citizens, and even government remain unaware of this labyrinthine structure in its entirety. We hope that this publicly available database will not only empower citizens, but also help government streamline these laws in a manner that will help protect people’s livelihoods, even as we promote investments in land, and ultimately eliminate land disputes, thereby helping us achieve a peaceful, just, and humane society.