Gujarat High Court Has Upheld The Gujarat Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Act, Even In The Absence Of Presidential Assent

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Case Title: Kamlesh Jivanlal Dave and Others vs State of Gujarat

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Sunita Agarwal and AP Mayee of the  Gujarat High Court, has recently affirmed the constitutional validity of the Gujarat Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Act, 2020, along with its associated regulations.

In addition to determining the absence of conflict between the legislation and central statutes, the Court ruled that the 2020 Act does not contravene Article 254 of the Constitution, which deals with inconsistencies between laws enacted by the Parliament and those by State Legislatures, due to the lack of presidential approval.

The bench said “We do not find any good ground to hold the Gujarat Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Act, 2020 and its allied rules as unconstitutional. Considering the pith and substance of the land grabbing Act, we hold that it is relatable to entries 18, 64 and 65 of List II of VII Schedule (of the Constitution of India) and as such there is no question of repugnancy to the Central laws such as the Limitation Act or CPC or CrPC or Transfer of Property Act, Specific Relief Act or the Evidence Act … On a comparative view, we also find that the same legislation’s validity with pari meterial provisions has been upheld even in Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. We therefore dismiss all the writ petitions,”

The Bench declined the lawyers’ request to postpone the implementation of the Act until July 30, thereby precluding the opportunity to file an appeal with the Supreme Court against today’s judgment from the High Court.

The Court further ruled that the 2020 law does not infringe upon the fundamental structure of the Constitution.

“Taking note of various provisions of 2020 Act, we find that these all provisions have an object and rationale with the purpose of the act which is to curb the land grabbing activities in Gujarat. This Act cannot be said to be violative of basic structure of the Constitution and it also does not violate Article 14 of Constitution and procedure of civil and criminal trials provided in impugned legislation cannot be said to arbitrary,” 

The Court rejected claims asserting that the penalties outlined for breaches of the land grabbing legislation are disproportionate and overly harsh.

“On aspect of proportionality for providing minimum sentence of 10 years for land grabbing, it is concluded that the wisdom of legislature must be given due regard and respect, it is for legislation being representative of people to decide as to what is good or bad for them. Court cannot sit over its wisdom. Consequently, the 2020 Act cannot be said ultravires on aspect of proportionality. The Act cannot be challenged on the plea of harsh and disproportionate punishment. We hold that the Act is not violative of Articles 13, 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution,

It additionally rejected a challenge to the Act based on its retrospective application.

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