The matter of the purchase of property by the Government and the
reimbursement given to the claimant has become a source of controversy in modern
times. Nevertheless, the concern is not recent. This is pointed out by the
frequent changes rendered to the right to property
The suggested new legislation on ownership of land, which could soon be
introduced in the Legislature, would effectively revive the legal dispute on the
right to property when the judiciary and the Parliament were in the lurch.
The ability of executive action- the legitimate ability of the Government to
seize the personal property of people for the public benefit has been accepted
as an integral characteristic of a national entity.
Facts of the Case
Issues of the Case
- The legality of the Bihar Land Reforms Act, 1950, was questioned,
but after the Constitution Act, 1951, the reason for
the appeal had vanished.
- That being said, it was claimed that the legislation was not passed for
the people's good and thus Article 31(4) did not safeguard the Law. The
public interest criterion was part of the very definition of accession and
could not be specified by interpreting entry 36, List II, with entry 42,
List III, to Schedule 7. Most held that Article 31(2) laid down two
requirements for the purchase of land:
- a public motive; and
- Remuneration fees and the public intent may not be decided by the
definition of procurement or by statutory entries.
- This case was pursued in Raja Surya Pal Singh v. the State of U.P.
In this event, the U.P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, 1951, was
retained. The Justifications that certain clauses of this Act represented
deceit of the Constitution and culminated in a non-remittance of reimbursement
have been dismissed on the grounds of a study of the clauses.
One crucial question posed in Kameshwar Singh was if the exemption to Article
31(2) stipulated in Article 31(4) safeguarded law against infringements of the
public intent and/or the provision for reimbursement.
Justice Mahajan's popular sentiment in Kameshwar Singh was neglected
by judiciary and researchers when evaluating Article 31. The original regard of
the judiciary to the matter of public interest was built on the basis of the
property reform schedule. Nevertheless, as in the instance of other accessions,
leniency has still been exercised by the courts.
Although it was the first judgment to render it plain that the judiciary might
examine even if or not the purchase was done for public reasons as provided by
Article 31(2), neither did it establish the conditions of a legitimate check or
theory and later, the courts did not carry out a public interest check and
therefore reverted to the parliament on the matter of public interest.
- The Apex Court affirmed the statutory legitimacy of the Bihar Land
Reforms Act 1950, but considered two sections of the Act to be
discriminatory by a vote of 3:2. Precluded from finding the statute against
the conditions of the Fundamental Rights in Part III, the Judiciary noticed,
in a specific way, that certain clauses discriminated against:
- the intrinsic necessity in an executive action for accession to be for
public purposes and
- against Entry 42 in the Concurrent List, which related to precepts on
restitution for land obtained or recovered.
- For about a decade since the First Amendment, the High Courts and
the Supreme Court have been interested in the settlement of lawsuits
surrounding the revocation of zamindari. However, amid its ambiguous decision in the Kameshwar
Singh case, in all following proceedings, the Apex Court retained the rule on
the revocation of zamindari in its totality.
Although the Court observed that
the grant of reimbursement for the purchase of land was a fundamental right
under Article 31(2) of the Constitution, it acknowledged that the legal
scrutiny of the legislation violating fundamental right was exempt in the
context of the revocation of zamindari, in compliance with the purpose of the
Interim Legislature, as stated in the implementation of the first amendment.
- However, while the matter of the termination of zamindari was reasonably
resolved, the issue of what else was protected by the meaning of state
in the first amendment was not addressed when the Legislature passed the
Constitution (Fourth Amendment) Act, 1955. The fourth amendment rendered a
range of modifications to Article 31 and added Article 31(2A)
- Considerably, the fourth amendment has repealed Article 31A, clause 1
and revised Article 31A, 2(b) to introduce the words raiyats and under raiyats
to the database of those, whose property rights have been excluded from the
defense of Articles 14, 19(1) (f)
- In addition to promoting the termination of intermediate tenancy in non-zamindari,
jagirdari, and other various communal land zones, the fourth amendment also
aimed to encourage the next level of land reclamation including the enforcement
of land thresholds and the allocation of possessions. Thus, it was up to the
judiciary to distinguish what sorts of property revenue classifications were
property and powers concerning property within the scope of the revised
Article 31A(2) (a).
- On the topic of reimbursement, the Court ruled that Article 31(4)
protects law even though it breaches the necessity for reimbursement; and
that section means that the judiciary cannot consider the problem of the
appropriateness of the remuneration. Furthermore, the statutes which are
shielded from judicial scrutiny, by way of Articles 31A and 31B, necessarily
preclude the courts from challenging the suitability of the reimbursement.
While reimbursement for purchase was a constitutional right, as a
consequence of the exemptions to Article 31(2), land reform legislation on
this subject has been removed from the judicial examination. Nevertheless,
this case law has been established very explicitly for agrarian development.
However, immediately afterward, reimbursement for some forms of the
acquisition was still challenged.
The legality of the West Bengal Land Development and Planning Act, 1948
was questioned in West Bengal v Bela Banerjee
. Succeeding the
separation of India, this law was introduced to purchase property for the
relocation of immigrants. The act further provided for the payment of interest
not beyond the market price of the property on 31 December 1946.
In KK Kochuni v State of Madras
, the Court ruled that the abolition of
the judicial scrutiny amelioration of the inquiry of reimbursement was
restricted only to situations where the purchase of the property was meant to
advance the land reform plan. In all such non-agricultural policy situations,
the incentive would be market value reimbursement.
Article 31 of the Constitution rendered the right to property a fundamental
which explicitly established that no individual shall be denied of
his estate except by the force of legislation and would not be obtained except
for a community cause and, most importantly, allowed for the remittance of
Article 31 has been changed six times since it has been revoked. There have been
a variety of Constitutional reforms in effect, ultimately limiting the right
The fourth amendment specified that the purchase of land should not be
questioned on the basis of the appropriateness of the remuneration. The goal of
the six modifications to Article 31A was to strengthen the control of the
The fourth amendment reiterated more specifically the powers of the Government
for the forced purchase and commandeer of personal property and separated it
from situations when the Government has induced destitution of land
17th amendment also limited the constitutional right to land. The definition of state
has been extended to transcend the judgments of the Apex Court
and the judgments of the High Court of Kerala.
Ryotwari properties were expressly mentioned in Article 31A, as the Supreme
Court ruled in Karimbil Kunhikonam v. the State of Kerala
properties did not come under the meaning of Article 31A. At the same period,
the Government was prohibited from possessing any self-cultivated property
within the limit set down by legislation until reimbursement was given not less
than the market rate.
One significant question posed in Kameshwar Singh was if the exemption to
Article 31(2) stipulated in Article 31(4) of the law covered against violation
of the public intent and/or the provision for reimbursement. On this issue, the
court, though respecting the Bihar laws, had differing viewpoints. For example,
Chief Justice Sastri found that Article 31(4) shielded the law from being
contested on the grounds of both the public interest clause and the provision
for reimbursement. In his opinion, the defense accounted for in Article 31(4)
would otherwise be useless.
Justice Mahajan, on another side, argued that the terminology alluded to in
Article 31(2) implies that the procurement of obligation can be for a public
benefit only, and is therefore implicit in that accession. Accordingly, Article
does not preclude the authority of the court from asking if the laws pertaining
to the mandatory purchase of property is not legitimate because the accession is
not for a public benefit.