Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Law, Politics and the Elusive Search for Balance


This article explores key issues in the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (LARR Act) read with recent changes proposed by the central government. The LARR Act has to be read in the context of political contestation and changing political winds, the spate of decisions by the Supreme Court in the run up to the enactment and the need for ‘balancing’ multiple viewpoints. In such context, the twin categories—federal and judicial—become prominent. The nature of the LARR Act’s response to both will determine its continued existence and significance. This article examines legal dimensions of issues such as ‘Eminent Domain’ and ‘public purpose’, R&R, compensation, safeguards for project-affected families and other relevant processes. The article asks larger legal and political questions regarding land acquisition within constitutional debates pertaining to the LARR Act’s implications for federalism and a detailed analysis of recent pronouncements of the Supreme Court. The article also looks at potential scenarios, and in particular, possible consequences of the enactment for future urbanisation patterns in India.