The Land Rights Initiative (LRI) at the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) Launches a First-of-its-Kind Database of Land Laws in India

16 December 2021

New Delhi, 16 December 2021 The Land Rights Initiative (LRI) at the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) launched the Mapping Indian Land Laws website, India's first ever, online interactive architecture of land laws in the country. CPR is India’s oldest and leading think tank that conducts research around India’s 21st-century public policy challenges. Founded in 2014, LRI at CPR is a pioneering initiative in the land policy space for building systematic knowledge on land rights issues in the country, and facilitating dialogue amongst diverse stakeholders. The Mapping Indian Land Laws database is available here: https://landlawsofindia.org/

More than 70 years since India became a constitutional democratic republic, almost 60 percent of Indians depend upon land for their livelihoodLand is not only the most important economic resource for most Indians, it is central to individual and community identity, history, and culture. Worryingly, land conflict is ubiquitous in India today, and threatens its economic development and its social and political stability. Millions of Indians are affected by conflict over land, which threatens investments worth billions of dollars. Land disputes clog all levels of courts, accounting for the largest set of cases in absolute numbers and judicial pendency. Conflicts between laws, and individual and government failure to comply with the rule of law, create legal disputes. Yet, the number and extent of land laws in India is anyone's guess, because there is no existing publicly available comprehensive database of land laws. This in turn restricts citizen access to laws that govern one of the most important aspects of their lives, thereby hampering the realisation of the constitutional promise of participatory democracy. 

Over the past five years, researchers at CPR LRI have travelled the length and breadth of the country to create a database of over one thousand colonial and post-colonial central and state land laws. The team has painstakingly collected officially authenticated copies of all originally enacted central and state laws from a geographically representative sample of eight states, namely, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Meghalaya, Punjab, and Telangana, numbering five hundred. From laws pertaining to land reforms and land acquisition, to revenue and taxation and land use; forest and mining laws to laws applicable to Scheduled Areas; from laws promoting and regulating urban and infrastructure development, to laws dealing with evacuee, enemy, ancestral and religious property, this vast legal apparatus governs the lives of the people of India, and their interactions with each other and the state.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Namita Wahi, Senior Fellow and Founder of LRI at CPR said, “The LRI team has meticulously categorised all five hundred original and active laws into thirty one separate thematic categories, and further sub categorised them into as many as one hundred and fifty one sub categories. Moreover, all laws have been summarised using simple English for easy comprehension by all. Through this process has been birthed the most comprehensive, online interactive architecture of land laws in India, that is accessible to all.”

Yamini Aiyar, President and Chief Executive, CPR said, "It is a privilege for CPR to launch the Mapping Indian Land Laws database. We hope this will be a useful repository to stakeholders across all levels-from policymakers, legislators, and researchers to grassroots organizations and civil society, and thus contribute to a more informed discourse on land rights in the country." 

The Mapping Indian Land Laws database was launched through a panel discussion featuring leading experts including Prof. Siri Gloppen (Director, Centre on Law & Social Transformation, and Professor of Political Science, University of Bergen, Norway), Dr. K.P. Krishnan (IEPF Chair Professor, National Council of Applied Economic Research), Shilpa Kumar (Partner, Omidyar Network India), Ramesh Sharma (National Coordinator, Ekta Parishad) and Rashmi Katyayan (Land Rights Advocate, High Court of Jharkhand). The full video of the launch is available here. This project has been made possible through financial support from the Indian Council for Social Science Research and Omidyar Network India. 

For media queries and interviews with the researchers, please contact:

Hemali Sodhi: hemali@cprindia.org

Dhruv Bhasin: dhruv.bhasin@cprindia.org

Namita Wahi: namita.wahi@cprindia.org

The views shared belong to individual faculty and researchers and do not represent an institutional stance on the issue.