Article 31A: Saving of laws providing for acquisition of estates, etc. - Constitution of India

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Article 31A: Saving of laws providing for acquisition of estates, etc. - Constitution of India

Article 31A: Saving of laws providing for acquisition of estates, etc. - Constitution of India

This provision was not included in the Constitution of India, 1950. It was later inserted by the Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951 and was subsequently amended several times. 

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(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in article 13, no law providing for—

(a) the acquisition by the State of any estate or of any rights therein or the extinguishment or modification of any such rights, or

(b) the taking over of the management of any property by the State for a limited period either in the public interest or in order to secure the proper management of the property, or

(c) the amalgamation of two or more corporations either in the public interest or in order to secure the proper management of any of the corporations, or

(d) the extinguishment or modification of any rights of managing agents, secretaries and treasurers, managing directors, directors or managers of corporations, or of any voting rights of shareholders thereof, or

(e) the extinguishment or modification of any rights accruing by virtue of any agreement, lease or licence for the purpose of searching for, or winning, any mineral or mineral oil, or the premature termination or cancellation of any such agreement, lease or licence,

shall be deemed to be void on the ground that it is inconsistent with, or takes away or abridges any of the rights conferred by 1 [article 14 or article 19]:

Provided that where such law is a law made by the Legislature of a State, the provisions of this article shall not apply thereto unless such law, having been reserved for the consideration of the President, has received his assent:

Provided further that where any law makes any provision for the acquisition by the State of any estate and where any land comprised therein is held by a person under his personal cultivation, it shall not be lawful for the State to acquire any portion of such land as is within the ceiling limit applicable to him under any law for the time being in force or any building or structure standing thereon or appurtenant thereto, unless the law relating to the acquisition of such land, building or structure, provides for payment of compensation at a rate which shall not be less than the market value thereof.

(2) In this article,—

(a) the expression “estate” shall, in relation to any local area, have the same meaning as that expression or its local equivalent has in the existing law relating to land tenures in force in that area and shall also include—

(i) any jagir, inam or muafi or other similar grant and in the States of 4 [Tamil Nadu] and Kerala, any janmam right;

(ii) any land held under ryotwari settlement;

(iii) any land held or let for purposes of agriculture or for purposes ancillary thereto, including waste land, forest land, land for pasture or sites of buildings and other structures occupied by cultivators of land, agricultural labourers and village artisans;

(b) the expression “rights”, in relation to an estate, shall include any rights vesting in a proprietor, sub-proprietor, under proprietor, tenure-holder, [raiyat, under-raiyat] or other intermediary and any rights or privileges in respect of land revenue.


Explanation of Article 31A: Saving of laws providing for acquisition of estates, etc. - Constitution of India

Article 31A was introduced by the Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951 to validate certain laws and prevent them from being challenged as violating fundamental rights.

Context

Article 31A makes an exception to Article 13 of the Constitution, which says that any law violating the fundamental rights provisions of Part III shall be void.

Key Provisions

Article 31A(1) says that the following types of laws shall not be deemed void on grounds of violating rights under Article 14 (right to equality) or Article 19 (certain freedoms):

  1. Laws providing for the acquisition by the State of any estate or rights therein.

  2. Laws providing for the taking over of management of any property by the State for a limited period in public interest or to secure proper management.

  3. Laws providing for the amalgamation of two or more corporations in public interest or to secure proper management.

  4. Laws providing for the extinguishment or modification of rights of managing agents, directors, managers etc. of corporations or shareholders' voting rights.

  5. Laws providing for the extinguishment or modification of rights accruing from agreements, leases or licenses for mining minerals, oil etc. or premature termination of such agreements.

However, if such a law is made by a State legislature, it will be subject to the President's assent.

Additional Protection for Personal Cultivators

Article 31A(1) further provides that if any law acquires land belonging to a personal cultivator, no portion within the ceiling limit applicable to him can be acquired without paying compensation at a rate not less than market value.

Definitions

Article 31A(2) defines the terms 'estate' and 'rights' for the purpose of this article.

'Estate' has the same meaning as assigned in local land tenure laws and also includes jagirs, inams, janmam rights, ryotwari settlements and agricultural land.

'Rights' in relation to an estate include rights of a proprietor, tenure holder, raiyat etc. and rights in land revenue.

This article thus validates certain laws interfering with property rights and businesses by exempting them from fundamental rights scrutiny. It balances the government's power of eminent domain with protection of cultivators.

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