Khasi Hills District Council at Loggerheads with Meghalaya Government over Community Land

Reported by

Jonah

Legal Data by

Edited by

Updated by

Published on

September 14, 2016

September 14, 2016

Updated on

September 14, 2016

Location of Conflict

Saitsohpen

East Khasi Hills

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Landbank

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

3840

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

531

ha

Starting Year

1981

State

Meghalaya

Sector

Land Use

The Meghalaya government claims that about 1,750 acres of tribal land in Elaka Saitsohpen Sirdarship, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC), is government land. The KHADC, which has jurisdiction over multiple Sirdarships, does not own the land but demands that the government recognise that the land belongs to it. Elaka Saitsohpen was created by the British colonial rulers in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills and this formed the seat of British governance, previously known as Cherrapunjee. By virtue of Section 7 of the Indian Independence Act, 1947, the Elaka became independent on the passing of the said Act. The Meghalaya government wants to acquire the land for different projects, but the people living on the land say it belongs to them and are not ready to give it away. Their rights under the Forest Rights Act, 2006, have also not been settled. On July 8, 2016, the Syiem of Saitsohpen asked the government to withdraw orders and notifications stating that the erstwhile British territories are government land. This is because the government cannot claim rights over any land that falls under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, except for cantonment and European and municipal wards, as stated in Para 20 of the same Schedule. The state, however, argues that the land belongs to the government since it was part of the British territory before the country gained independence. Earlier, in March 2014, the new Executive Committee of the KHADC decided to nullify all land acquisitions within its jurisdiction that were carried out without any clearance from the Council. Chief Executive Member Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit [stated](http://Chief Executive Member Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit) that the residents were completely unaware about the land acquisition and are now struggling to make do with the 332 acres of land left after the acquisition of 1,312 acres. He also claimed that 900 acres of the acquired land was designated for the construction of a National Institute of Technology without informing the KHADC. In early 2017, the KHADC and Elaka Saitsohpen filed a petition against the state government claiming jurisdiction over the land. In September 2017, the high court disposed of the petition, suggesting the parties to approach an appropriate court, but stated that no one should be dispossessed without due process of law. In May 2018, the KHADC decided to file an appeal before the high court against the state government for its failure to respect the court order. Laitumkhrah Meghalaya District Council Member Antonio N. War, supporting the KHADC, stated, "I am afraid that many of the villagers who own agricultural land would be displaced if the government is allowed to acquire land in these two areas. Punishing our own people in the name of development is unjustified.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for legal recognition of land rights

Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Both

Type of Common Land

Forest and Non-Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Forest and Scheduled Area Governance Laws, Constitutional Law, Land Acquisition Laws

Legislations/Policies Involved

Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
Section 3(1)(a) [This section recognises the right of forest dwellers to hold and live on forestland under either individual or common occupation, to either live on or cultivate]; Section 3(1)(f) [This section grants to forest dwellers rights over disputed land regardless of the nature of dispute]; Section 4(1) [This section vests all forest rights in Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers]; Section 4(2) [This section lays down stringent conditions that must be fulfilled before any forest dwellers are resettled or any of their rights are affected]
Constitution of India, 1950
Sixth Schedule, Section 3 (a) [This section empowers the District Councils to make laws for allotment, occupation or use of land other than reserved forest for any purpose, including agricultural, residential purposes etc.] Proviso to Clause 3(a) [This proviso states that the any law made by District Councils would not affect compulsory acquisition by the state government]
Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013
Section 27 [Amount of compensation is determined under this section]; Section 77 [Compensation is to be paid under this section]; Section 80 [Under this section, when compensation is not paid or if there is delay, interest becomes payable]; Second Schedule, Paragraphs 1, 5, 6, 10 and 11 [Displaced families are entitled to either housing units or compensation; subsistence grant, transportation costs, a one-time resettlement allowance, and any stamp duty or registration charges for the new housing units are to be borne by the entity responsible for the displacement]
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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

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  6. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  7. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Non-implementation/violation of FRA

Violation of free prior informed consent

Non-implementation/violation of LARR Act

Controversial land acquisition by the government

Lack of legal protection over land rights

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Disposed

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

High Court of Meghalaya

Case Number

WP(C) No. 353 of 2016

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

No items found.

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials

Advocacy (for inclusion in courts)

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

General Administration Deprtment, Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Sirdars of Saitsohpen, Darbar of Saitsohpen

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

Image Credit:  

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Documented By

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Reviewed By

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Updated By

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Edited By

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