Constitutional Provisions on Land and Land Reforms in India

The constitution of India has included the Land reform in State subjects. The Entry 18 of the State List is related to land and rights over the land. The state governments are given the power to enact laws over matters related to land.

Part IV of the Directive Principles of State Policy also indirectly mandates the government to take measures for land reforms to achieve an egalitarian society.

The Entry 20 in the concurrent list also mandates the Central Government to fulfil its role in Social and Economic Planning.  The Planning Commission was established for suggestion of measures for land reforms in the country. The specific articles of the constitution that pertain to land reforms are as follows:

  • Article 23 under fundamental rights abolished Begar or forced unpaid labour in India.
  • Article 38 under Directive principles directed the state to minimize inequality of income, status and opportunities.
  • Article 39 under the Directive Principles directed the state to work for equitable distribution of the material resources of the community for common good.
  • Article 48 directed the state to organize agriculture and animal husbandry on modern-scientific lines.

Further, immediately after the independence, the state government enacted laws to abolish the Zamindari, Jotedari, Ryotwari etc. systems. But soon, these laws were dragged into the court on the basis that they violated the fundamental rights to property of the Zamindars under article 19 and 31. Consequently, the first amendment of the constitution was passed that amended the constitution and secured the constitutional validity of zamindari abolition laws passed by states.

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