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Supreme Court reviews Gujarat's Land Grabbing Act amid misuse concerns


The Supreme Court of India has issued a notice to the Gujarat government in response to a legal challenge against the state's strict Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Act, 2020. The law aims to curb illegal land acquisition but faces criticism for potential misuse. The case involves three Rajkot brothers accused under the Act, whose proceedings are temporarily halted by the Court. In May, the Gujarat High Court upheld the Act's constitutionality despite petitions arguing it lacked presidential approval and imposed excessive punishments. Critics worry about the law's potential for personal vendettas and its severe penalties. The Supreme Court's ruling will be pivotal for land rights and anti-land grabbing laws in India.

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The Supreme Court of India has issued a notice to the Gujarat government following a legal challenge to the state's tough Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Act, 2020. This law, with its strict provisions aimed at curbing illegal land acquisition, has faced criticism for potentially enabling misuse.

The case centers around three brothers from Rajkot who are facing accusations of land grabbing under the Act. Their lawyer, Virat Popat, confirmed that the Supreme Court has also placed a temporary hold on their case proceedings until a final decision is reached.

In May, the Gujarat High Court dismissed multiple petitions challenging the Act's constitutionality. The petitioners argued that the law lacked presidential approval, contradicted existing central laws, and included excessively harsh punishments. However, the High Court ruled that the Act fell under the state legislature's purview and did not require presidential assent. It further justified the law's severity, stating that the punishment for land grabbing (up to 10 years in jail) was a matter for the legislature to decide.

Despite the High Court's ruling, a key concern remains regarding the potential misuse of this law. Critics argue that the provision allowing prosecution even after a favourable civil court decree, if fraud is suspected, could be exploited for personal vendettas. Furthermore, some consider the 10-year prison sentence for land grabbing to be disproportionate punishment. The petitioners in the Supreme Court case will likely argue this point alongside the potential for misuse.

The Supreme Court's decision will determine the fate of the Gujarat Land Grabbing Act. A ruling upholding the law could set a precedent for other states struggling with land grabbing issues. However, if the Court finds the Act unconstitutional or overly harsh, it could be significantly weakened or even struck down entirely.

This case highlights the ongoing debate between protecting vulnerable landowners and ensuring the law doesn't become a tool for harassment. The Supreme Court's verdict will be closely watched by those concerned about land rights and the future of anti-land grabbing measures across India.

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