Land Acquisition, Development and the Constitution

Seminar Magazine, February 2013

6 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2013

See all articles by Namita Wahi

Namita Wahi

Harvard Law School; Center for Policy Research (India)

Date Written: December 25, 2012


In this article, I argue that the debates surrounding the adoption of a fundamental right to property in the Constitution were centred around the somewhat paradoxical desire to achieve a liberal democratic legal order which guaranteed the rights to liberty, equality and property, while simultaneously embarking on a transformation of the economic and social order considered imperative to prevent a revolution. This transformation was pegged on a development strategy involving a move from a feudal agrarian to a capital intensive industrial society. A major component of this transformative agenda was land reform, involving zamindari abolition abolition and redistribution of land among the peasants. Equally important, however, was state planned industrial growth and encouragement of growth of private industry.

The article goes on to assess the history of land acquisition laws in this country against this backdrop. In particular, it analyses the key features of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, including the major problems with its implementation. It then analyses the proposed Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, with a view to determining the extent to which the bill addresses the problems with the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. Finally, the article describes the special constitutional provisions for the Scheduled Areas as contained in the Fifth and Sixth Schedules and analyses to what extent the LARR bill is compliant with existing constitutional guarantees.

Keywords: land acquisition, Land Acquisition Act, 1894, Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, Indian Constitution, Article 31, Article 19(1)(f), Article 300A, tribal rights, Fifth Schedule, Sixth Schedule, economic development, right to property, industry, zamindars

Suggested Citation

Wahi, Namita, Land Acquisition, Development and the Constitution (December 25, 2012). Seminar Magazine, February 2013. Available at SSRN:

Namita Wahi (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1563 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Center for Policy Research (India) ( email )

Dharma Marg
New Delhi, 110022

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