Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement: Law and Politics

Amlanjyoti Goswami  | 17 November 2011

Abstract

This working paper looks at the new Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Bill, 2011 and
explores key issues within the text of the Bill and the larger political context of land acquisition in India. In particular, it explores issues relating to Eminent Domain and ‘public purpose,’ rehabilitation and resettlement, compensation, safeguards for ‘Project Affected Persons’ (PAPs), processes (including the urgency clause), linkages with environment, applicability of the proposed enactment as well as crucial areas of nonapplicability. In doing so, the paper also asks larger legal and political questions regarding land acquisition in the backdrop of constitutional debates pertaining to the Bill’s implications for federalism and within a detailed analysis of the most recent pronouncements of the Supreme Court. On ‘public purpose’, the paper infers that even if the new Bill renders the concept less vague, it will still not stop the Judiciary from looking into questions of abuse in actual land acquisition or use of the land. What the LARR Bill could however do is allow a clearer legal framework within which the Judiciary could look into these questions in general, and on ‘public purpose’ in particular. The paper also looks at potential scenarios, and in particular, possible intended (or unintended) consequences of the enactment for future urbanisation patterns in India.