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Post-Independence position of the Land Movement in India

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At the time of Indian Independence, Zamindaris and big landlords enjoyed lands. The Indian Parliament constituted the Congress Agrarian Reforms Committee under the Chairmanship of J C Kumarappa. The committee gave its recommended in the form of a report - The Kumarappa Committee Report. It make four important recommendations:

Abolition of Intermediaries

The committee recommended the establishment of 'Intermediaries' system. With this all forms of intermediaries including zamindars and similar forms are abolished. The committee recommended the transfer of full ownership of land to tillers who personally held the land and is cultivating it.

According to these recommendations, many states enacted various Acts, some with ceiling, and some without ceiling of land. The Governments of West Bengal and Jammu & Kashmir enacted with ceiling. All waste lands, forest lands are taken over by the Government.

Landlords used loopholes in the law to escape. Terms like 'personal cultivation' are not well defined and allowed ambiguity. Thus legal faults coupled with administrative indifference, political interference and negligence of rules caused delay and helped landlords to part from their excess lands.

Tenancy Reforms

Despite the abolishing of intermediaries, tenants-at-will (such as Tenants of Khas, sub-tenants, tenants-holdings and Sharecroppers) continued to exist. Many of these still continue to exist. This is because of tenants are not favored because of various factors.

  • Their leases are oral
  • They depend on landowners for loans
  • Illiterate
  • Caste feelings
  • Poverty
  • Concentration of political power in rich landlords etc

Ceiling of land holding and distribution of surplus land

Ceiling of land is implemented into two phases:

  • First Phase: Majority of states enacted their laws with a fixed maximum land ceiling. Since this ceiling is different for each of the states and since it is a maximum, this phase failed.
  • Second Phase: Central Government recommended that the ceiling should be 3.68 hectors of wet land and 24.48 hectors of dry land. This phase allowed distribution of land to the landless farmers to a large extent.

Consolidation of holdings

Because farmers used to get a small land holding, it was largely insufficient for their livelihood. The concept of co-operative farming was tested but, unlike in Israel, it failed in India because:

  • Illiteracy
  • Selfishness
  • Unable to understand the spirit of co-operation
  • Interference by politicians
  • Rigid bureaucrats
  • Influence of landowners

Failure of Land Ceiling in India

  • Land Ceiling limits fixed at maximum extent
  • Abolishing of intermediaries system lead landowners to transfer lands on the names of their family members
  • Government had not done any survey to access land
  • Land ceilings are at different levels in different states
  • Supreme Court gave some judgments citing Article 31 (Right to Property)
  • Government does not have any proper land records
  • Land owners used religion and charities to transfer their lands because charities are out of land ceiling
  • Definition of 'family' is ambiguous and many families existed in a household.
  • Peasants and agricultural laborers are not recognized

See also