Archaic land law a bane to India

Millions affected by land disputes across the country

Mumbai is the financial, commercial and entertainment capital of India. SNEHIT/Shutterstock

India’s convoluted, contradictory land laws need an urgent overhaul, suggested a New Delhi-based thinktank to Reuters.

A solution to land conflict is one of the foremost policy challenges for India, according to Namita Wahi, head of the Land Rights Initiative at Centre for Policy Research (CPR).

“Competing historical and policy narratives of property rights have resulted in numerous, conflicting laws, leading to legal disputes,” she said.

“The problem is compounded by administrative failure to comply with the rule of law.”

India now has more than 1,200 laws related to land, some dating to the colonial era more than a century ago, said Wahi.

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“No government has ever attempted to rationalize existing land laws. But this is the need of the hour,” she said.

A fourth of cases decided in India’s Supreme Court have been related to land, further CPR research showed.

The thinktank’s findings square with a preponderance of data showing that contentious land laws affect an untold number of people in India.

About two thirds of all civil cases in the country were related to land and property, Reuters reported, citing data from the legal advocacy group Daksh.

Meanwhile, Land Conflict Watch is reporting that eight million people in the country are affected by 700 land disputes, many of which have gone to court.