Gudalur Janmam Abolition Act
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The Gudalur Janmam Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) of 1969 was an act aiming at vesting of agricultural land to the cultivators and was specially created for the Gudalur Taluk of Nilgiris District in Tamil Nadu State in India. The Act passed by the Tamil Nadu State Legislature as Act 24/1969.This was also included in the ninth schedule of the Constitution. Section 3 of the said Act was for vesting the private forest with the State Government and this provision was struck down by the Court as unconstitutional. to overcome the Court Judgment, this Act was placed in the 9th Schedule of the Constitution of India. A Bench of Supreme Court held that the purpose of the Act, enacted by the Tamil Nadu government, was meant to do away with hereditary ship.
Agrarian reform in India had been adopted to reallocate the agricultural resources among all the people directly connected with agriculture. After independence, the Government of India started the process of building equity in rural population and improvement of the employment rate and productivity. So for this reason the Government had started agrarian reform.
According to agrarian reform land was declared as a property of State Government. So agrarian reform varied from State to State. But the main objectives of agrarian reform in India were:
- Setting proper land management
- Abolition of Intermediaries
- Preventing fragmentation of lands
- Tenancy reform
The land policies of different States faced several controversies. In some States the reform measures were biased.
Janmam is different from Zamindar/Jamindar. Hence Janmi is different from Zamindari. Janmi is the king of that land. Zamindar is a powerful entity having control over an area. Above Zamindar there will be some other King or emperor to collect tax. But above Janmi there is no other entity
At present this act affects two Talukas as the original Gudalur Taluka is bifurcated into Gudalur and Pandalur. In the guise of giving the lands to the cultivators/tenant, the State government has indirectly acquired large amount of land through this colorful legislation. The majority of the real tenants did not get the benefit of this Act. There are so many large scale lease holders whose land is classified as Section 17 of the Act, as it is leased out for large scale Plantations. But at the same time there are so many small scale farmers whose land also wrongly classified as section 17 of the Act. All lands where proceedings were pending before the Settlement Officer in 1978 was arbitrarily treated as Section 17 of the Act. There are some waste lands are also classified under Section 17. Large area of virgin forests were cleared by the TN Government and converted into State owned tea plantations named TANTEA.
Even before the state reorganization of Kerala and Tamil Nadu (Madras), a number of people migrated from different parts of the country to work in the coffee, tea and singona plantations. Due to the aftereffects of World War II there was a severe famine throughout the country. To overcome the famine, it was necessary to increase food production and therefore the government invited the people to utilize uncultivated lands and forests for the production of food and other agricultural products. Due to this invitation, many adventuresome people migrated to the Gudalur area from Travancore and Malabar. Most migrants fought animals, malaria and the unadjustable nature of the land to produce food and other agricultural products to sustain themselves and their fellow beings. Research scholar Mr. P. George Giri (Advocate, Supreme Court) has done detailed research on this topic.
The land in Gudalur area, excluding the forest lands, can be categorized as lands belonged to Nilambur Kovilakom, Naduvattu Mana, Nelliyalam Rathi, Kottar Kudiyiruppu, Kurichier Kudiyiruppu, plantations of the British era. Nilambur Kovilakam had more than 120,000 acres (490 km2) of land. These lands were Janmam lands. After the state reorganization, the land which belonged to Nilambur Kovilakam was supposed to go to those who actually cultivated the land and they were supposed to become the owners of the lands in their possession. However, part of the land was given ryotwari patta and majority of the claims were kept in abeyance. This became possible because of the land reform laws enacted during the period of the EMS Namboodiripad government in 1957. Thus the cultivators' rights have been protected in Kerala. Following this, the Tamil Nadu government enacted Gudalur Janmam Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, 1969, to protect the interests of the cultivators of land in Gudalur. Though this Act was passed by the State Legislature of Tamil Nadu on December 6, 1969, it only came into effect on November 24, 1974.
A few cases challenging the constitutionality of the Gudalur Janmam Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act are pending before the Honorable Supreme Court of India in I.R.Coelho v. State of Tamil Nadu; Glenrock Estate v. State of Tamil Nadu and Nilambur Kovilakam v. State of Tamil Nadu. Nine judge bench of the Supreme Court of India in I.R.Coelho v. State of Tamil Nadu (2007), gave a decision that the inclusion of any Act in 9th Schedule of the Constitution of India can be challenged, if it violates the fundamental right or the basic structure of the Constitution.
- per the decision of the supreme court dated 11-jan-2007 in I R Coelho vs state of Tamil nadu 2007 (2) SCC 70, the 9 judge bench of the supreme court has struck down the protection enjoyed by legislations which were included in the schedule IX of the constitution as a result of this land mark judgement now it is open for challenge by a citizen for violation of fundamental rights guaranteed by part III of the constitution.