You might Not be the Owner of the Land Registered in your Name – The Land Acquisition Act says so

Do you know a 100 year old Act may deprive you of your property in a couple of days?

The Land Acquisition Act, 1894 gives considerable power to the government to to acquire any land for “public purposes”. The Act is being misused by both State and Central governments to acquire multitude of lands specially in the rural areas in the illusion of development and urbanization.

Purpose of the Act

Acquisition of land was a primary requirement of the British in order to carry out some of their most ambitious projects such as railways, rural planning and development, construction of public offices, building establishments required by corporations and providing residence to the poor. Thus they enacted a draconian piece of legislation known as the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.

Features of the Act

1. After the amendment of 1984, the act applies to whole of the country except the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Prior to this amendment; Rajasthan, Nagaland, Kerala and J&K had similar but separate land acquisition Acts.

2. The government may also acquire land under other certain acts such as Coal Bearing Act, Forests Act, Slum Areas Act, Delhi Development Act and Maharashtra Industrial Development Act.

Procedure under the Act

1. The government through publication notifies that the land in a particular locality is needed or may be needed for a public purpose or for a company. S. 4(1).

2. Authorized officers ascertain whether the said land is suitable for the purpose in view S. 4 (2).

3. Persons interested in the property may file their objections which would be enquired by Collector. S. 5-A.

4. Declaration and publication of intended acquisition by Government. S 6

5. The land is to be marked, measured and planned under the supervision of the Collector. Sections 7 & 8.

6. Issuance of public and individual notices to interested persons who may file their claims for compensation. S. 9.

7. Claims are to be enquired by the Collector. S. 11

8. Collector to award adequate compensation which would be awarded after the possession of land by the collector. Present Scenario The Act was heavily amended in 1984 by the Central Government. On one hand, amendment made provisions for efficient and adequate compensation but on the other it widened the scope of Sec.17 of the Act which deals with acquisition of land by companies. It is easier for government companies to acquire land vis-a-vis private enterprises.

The governments have always construed “public purposes” in liberal sense. They have succeeded in classifying any acquisition of land as being in public interest. With the emergence of SEZs and public-private partnerships eminent domain is being abused on a vast scale.

Unfortunately, the people who loose their lands have never been reasonably compensated. They are generally poor and uneducated and have no means to fight their cause. Ironically, the cost of development is borne by people who can hardly afford it.


1. Tata Nano Project:- After the protests Tata shifted its Nano Plant to Gujarat. But it still holds the lease of the disputed land for another 99 years.

2. Sanand The fertile land in Gujarat is being acquired to make space for the small wonder Nano. The government has already taken 5000 acres of land under its control.

3. Posco The iron-mining project has been delayed for 5 years as the farmers in Orissa are reluctant to surrender their fertile lands. Most of them have been killed or injured during the protests.

4. Reliance SEZ The Supreme Court rejected its special leave petition of Reliance to seek a stay order for land acquisition in Raigad, Maharashtra. However, it was able to acquire 1,150 Hectares of land near Navi Mumbai to accomplish its industrial and residential plans.

5. Arcelor Mittal Thousands of villagers of Jharkhand have contended that the government is selling land of tribals to non-tribals which violates the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act.

Deficient Bills

The government intends to amend the Act. The pending bills propose a number of changes such as re-defining ‘public purpose’; reduction in acquisition of land by private parties; formulation for Social Impact Assessment and establishment of National Rehabilitation Commission.

Although all references to companies have been deleted in the Amendment Bill, 2007; the new definition of “public purpose” includes acquisition for “a person” (Company is regarded as a person in law). The Rehabilitation Bill also has a number of flaws. The language of the bill gives discretionary powers to the government. The bill doesn’t impose only sanction on non-compliance of its laws. Conclusion

In India land is equity. People spend their entire life-savings to purchase a small piece land or any land for sale. Land resources are required by nations to progress. But at what cost? U.S.A and other countries follow a relatively more transparent procedure than India.

The powers of the government need to be restrained. The farmers should be given economic rights in their lands. If they are deprived of their lands, they must be recognized as stakeholders in the projects. Alternatively acquisition of land for commercial purposes must be discouraged. The Act must be abrogated and replaced by a new transparent legislation which sympathetic towards the land owners.

“The act empowers the government to transform an owner into a landless laborer overnight.”

I dedicate the post to my father Mr. A.K. Agarwal, who not only suggested the topic but also helped in research.

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When will they celebrate their Independence? Common plight of Indian and Pakistani Fishermen

India and Pakistan share many things together. One such thing is their consecutive independence day. Today I thought of addressing an issue which is vital to both the countries. No, its not Kashmir. It is something more fundamental that concerns me today.The detention of Indian and Pakistani Fishermen cross border can no longer be ignored by us.

Official Statistics

According to the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum 159 Pakistani fishermen are detained in India on the other hand 547 Indian Fishermen have been detained in Pakistan. Moreover India has 200 Pakistani and Pakistan has about 350 Indian boats in their custody. It is a large possibility that the actual figures are much higher.

Why are the fishermen arrested?

Due to the Sir Creek border dispute between the nations, their sea borders are not clearly defined. Thus it is difficult for the fishermen to distinguish marine territories. Moreover, they have low understanding of maritime borders and protocols.

Seldom they cross the marine boundaries and have to pay huge price for it. Most of Indian fishermen who have been detained by Pakistan belong to Gujrat, Daman and Diu. The Gujrat CM Mr. Narendra Modi recently said that the Union Government is ignoring these arrests deliberately.

India shares cordial relations with Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan authorities and fishermen arrested in these countries are easily acquitted. But since India and Pakistan do not share cordial diplomatic ties, it is difficult for both the countries to protect their arrested fishermen.

Fishermen’s Plight

Most of the fishermen have been in jails for years.Their bona fide mistake costs them more than any crime they could have done. Their families are unaware of their presence. Generally a boat consists of all the fishermen from the same family. Any mistake may result in arrest of all the “earning male members” from a single family. In such situations their family suffers both emotionally and economically. The hope for return never dies but everyone is aware that the chances are negligible.

Laws and Punishment

In India illegal entrants in the country may be punished with imprisonment of 3.5 months to 5 years.

According to the Article 73 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, arrested vessels and crew are to be promptly released “upon the posting of reasonable bond or other security” and should not result in imprisonment or corporal punishment. The nations must invoke this article to ensure the early acquittal of the marine prisoners.

What is and What can be done?

The suspicion of terrorist activities forces the marine officers to do their duty diligently. Their work needs to be admired but once it is established that the arrested are not guilty of criminal tresspass, they must be released. This can be done only with the development of diplomatic understanding between the two nations.

In past both the nations have issued declaration of fishermen releases but things have never materialized. Most of them who have completed their sentences are not released either. Both the nations believe “we would release our prisoners only when they release theirs.” This diplomatic release game treats these prisoners as pawns. They are left of the mercy of their leaders to get what they lawfully deserve.

The ones who are released are in no good shape either. Generally, they are disillusioned, ill, infirm and depressed. A young lad returns as a feeble old man with grayed hair. He fails to be with his wife and family. His children become alien to him. His parents are no longer alive to meet him. His wife lived like a married widow all throughout her life.

Moreover, even if the countries release a prisoner they never release his vessel. A boat costs Rs 5 to 6 lakhs is usually bought on installments. A fishermen has virtually no resources to afford another vessel. Most of them are poor and uneducated can neither opt another career.


Action is required to be taken immediately. Indian and Pakistani Supreme Courts have realized the importance of the crucial issue.

In a dispute the Union government pleaded to detain the Pakistani fishermen in jail until Pakistan releases an equal number of Indian fishermen. However SC of India rightly held otherwise and ordered release of 16 Pakistani fishermen who had served their sentence.

In Pakistan no person can be kept in jail after 3 months of completion of his/her sentence. But the government sought permission to keep Indian fishermen in jail even when they had completed their sentence. The Pakistan SC has also taking cognizance of the matter has also ordered the release of Indian fishermen.

The courts in both the countries are performing the duties of the executive. But the implementation of these orders depend totally on the will of the governments. They have ignored the plight of the fishermen for 63 years which is no longer justified. Arrest of 800 fishermen affects 800 families in India and Pakistan.

Sadly, these fishermen can never cherish independence in the same sense as we do until some diplomatic actions are taken.

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Married in India but Divorced in US

Everyone celebrated their wedding. The groom was an NRI engineer settled in Boston who came to Punjab to marry Manjeet, a beautiful village girl. No one had ever anticipated that this fairy tale would turn into a nightmare until the groom decided to abandon Manjeet and marry again.

He obtained a divorce decree in US. Subsequently, Manjeet filled a petition in an Indian Court. The court declared the divorce null and void although it hardly had jurisdiction over the foreign decree. Now, her husband is divorced in States but married in India.

According to NCW more than 50 women are facing the issue in Gujarat, Punjab and other parts of the country.


In such divorce cases the conflict of Private International Law becomes evident. Usually, one party obtains a divorce decree aboard which is not recognized in the Indian Courts on the ground that the foreign court had no jurisdiction over the matter. As a result the marriage is recognized in one country but annulled in the other. Such a person may be tried for Bigamy in India but in the other country he would not be considered guilty.


An ex-parte divorce happens when only one spouse participates in the court proceedings.  In US, a state has the authority to determine the marital status of that person (who lives in that state) even if it does not have jurisdiction over the other spouse. Usually,the spouse who doesn’t live in the county where the divorce was filed would not be subject to its jurisdiction unless a status exception is present.

Many a times foreign courts grant ex-parte divorce decrees, with one party being unrepresented and thus unheard. Often the parties are unaware about these proceeding too. Due to various practical and financial difficulties; a party may not be able to contest the case. Generally, the wives deprived of maintenance and matrimonial property in these cases.

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