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Issue No.: 574 | April 2015
 

Hypocrites All!

S. V. Raju
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"We of the cities will do everything for the peasant except get off his back.” - Mahatma Gandhi

Why We Do Not Support the Land Acquisition Bill

Under the original Constitution of India the farmers have the right to acquire, maintain and dispose of
landed property and any amount of compensation cannot take that right away. The correct position
would be, if a farmer wishes to continue to stay with agriculture despite the adverse situation, the
government will have no right to acquire his land for whatever purpose. On the other hand, if a farmer
wishes to discontinue agriculture then he should have the right to dispose off his land to whomsoever,
whenever and at whatever price he chooses. The present ordinance (now a bill passed by the Lok Sabha
and awaiting Rajya Sabha endorsement) will have the effect of strengthening the position of the
government departments to the disadvantage of the farming community. Judged by the reactions of the
present land holders, it would appear that the Bill would only cause further confusion and make
industrial development even more difficult than at present.
Shetkari Sanghatana founder Sharad Joshi in his comments
in Freedom First No.573, March 2015

On January 12 1959 Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru launched a crusade against the property rights of the majority of the Indian people when he got the Indian National Congress at its A.I.C.C meeting that day in Nagpur to adopt a resolution which in effect would lead to appropriating the land of the farmer in the name of Joint Cooperative Farming, uprooting in the process, the traditional Indian method of peasant family farming. It came to be notoriously known as the Nagpur Resolution that led in turn to the 17th Amendment to the Constitution on 30th April 1964.

Denouncing this amendment Rajaji observed: This Bill is a gigantic falsehood to make all owners of land ‘intermediaries’, thus reviving the exploded doctrine that all land in India belongs to Government, every peasant
being only tenant. When the British were ruling, the Congress vigorously sought to protect the peasant and
objected to this feudal doctrine. It now seems the position is revered”. Peasant leader Prof. N.G.Ranga and the then President of the Swatantra Party said: "It is wrong for the Government to consider their land policy which they have conceived with the aid of the Planning Commission to be of greater inflexibility than the Constitution.” Said Masani then General Secretary of the Swatantra Party: "What we want is sympathy and security for the farmer, not a Damocles’ Sword hanging over his head.”
 
The 17th Amendment amending Article 31 A of the Indian Constitution gave uncontrolled power to the State legislatures over all landed property in this country. A feature of this measure is the peculiar definition of the word "estate”. 

"The expression ‘estate’ shall in relation to any local area, have the same meaning as that expression or its local equivalent has in the existing law relating to land tenures in forces in that area and shall also include:

  1. any jagir, imam or muafi or other similar grant and in the States of Madras, and Kerala and janmam right;
  2. any land held under ryotwari settlement; 
  3. any land held or let for purposes of agriculture or for purposes ancillary thereto including wasteland, forest land , land for pasture or sites of buildings and other structures occupied by cultivators of land, agricultural labourers and village artisans.”
By this perverted definition, even a mere acre of land can be called an "estate” and be taken away. 

The 17th Amendment started a seesaw struggle between the Supreme Court of India and the Governments of India for the next 15 years (between 1964 and 1977/78) and the various amendments that followed tightening the grip of the state on the farmer. The Supreme Court’s position on constitutional amendments laid out in its judgements and which is the position today is that Parliament can amend the Constitution but cannot destroy its "basic structure”.

The Land Acquisition Bill which at the time of writing has with various amendments passed the Lok Sabha is now in the Rajya Sabha where the Indira Congress (wearing the garb of the anti-farmer Indian National Congress) is opposing the Bill and posing itself as a protector of the farmer. The Cong(I) which did its damndest to despoil the kisan of his land is now shouting hoarse its bogus concerns. Its Madam-leader led 13 other political parties in a procession to Rashtrapathi Bhavan to demand that the President should not agree to a demand for the Ordinance to be extended among other reasons.

Not one of the 14 political parties really has the farmers’ interests at heart. Their only interest – their political survival AND not that of the farmers’.

Hypocrites All !
 
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Other Articles in this Issue

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The Functioning of the Lok Sabha

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Obituary

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Nagaland Lynching

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Our "Inconsistencies"

A Lesson in Public Life from Rajaji and Masani

 

The Land Acquisition Bill

Hypocrites All!

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The Land Acquisition Bill Not Convincing

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Point Counter Point : Every issue has at least two sides

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Sensitive Documents

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Black Money

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The Rural Perspective

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Foreign Relations in the 21st Century

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Pakistan’s Quest for Nationhood

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Book Review

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Shortage of Qualified Teachers

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The Right to Sanitation as a Human Right

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Miscellany

WHAT NEXT?

 
 
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