Journal article / Judicial Decision-Making on Land Rights in Kerala and Karnataka

Sinha, Meenakshi. ‘Land, Law and Courts in India: Tracing Land Rights Debates through Processes of Judicial Decision Making’. Development and Change. Published ahead of print, 3 April 2019.

Abstract (edited): The pace of industrial and allied infrastructure development in India is encumbered by scarcity in the supply of land. As a result, the state in India has frequently resorted to expropriation of land through conversion of land away from its traditional uses and through displacement of communities.

Consequently, land acquisition in the country is mired in disputes over human rights and environmental rights violations. In the face of continued political support for infrastructure‐led development in India, those who stand to lose their land have often resorted to judicial recourse for pressing their rights.

This article draws on empirical evidence from court cases related to two urban development projects in the states of Karnataka and Kerala to examine how courts have responded to the question of violation of land rights, and appeals against land acquisition, for the two projects.

The author argues that the courts, while responding to the claims against the two projects, have refrained from holding the implementing agencies or the state governments accountable, even in cases where there were recognisable incidents of malfeasance. The article illustrates that the inability of the courts to confront the state lends a tacit assent to the development agenda of the state.

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Reposted from Kerala Scholars eGroup.

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