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Abstract

The Land Acquisition Act (LAA) of 1894 empowers the Indian state to exercise eminent domain for acquiring private land in ‘public purpose’. During the last few years, India has witnessed raging debates on whether the state is justified in acquiring land for use and development by industry. The Government has sought to address various concerns raised in this regard through the Land Acquisition, Resettlement & Rehabilitation (LARR) Bill of 2011, which seeks to replace the LAA. Several provisions in the Bill are influenced by the recommendations of the National Advisory Council (NAC). This paper examines the LARR Bill for identifying its improvements over the LAA in addressing rights and concerns of land owners. It also analyses the illustration of ‘public purpose’ and the role of the Government envisaged in acquiring land for industry in the LAA, the NAC’s recommendations and the LARR Bill. The paper argues that while the Bill improves over the LAA in a few aspects, it is a sub-optimal legislation from a rights-based approach as it does not strengthen individual rights to property for empowering individuals to challenge ‘public purpose’.

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