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Title: Land acquisition in British India, c. 1894-1927
Author: Krishnan, Eesvan
ISNI:       0000 0004 4356 1318
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This study offers the first instalment of a general history of land acquisition in British India, c. 1894–1927. It advances eight principal theses: (i) that the first law of land acquisition was enacted in 1668, as part of a political settlement by the East India Company with the Portuguese landlords of Bombay island; (ii) that, to a remarkable degree, land acquisition law was shaped in the interest of the sterling railway companies; (iii) that the state habitually used land acquisition not so much to effect non- consensual transfers but to ‘launder’ titles free of encumbrances and other claims; (iv) that the primary beneficiaries of land acquisition were public bodies, the sterling railway companies, and elite private interests; (v) that the executive was hostile to legislative and judicial oversight of land acquisition, and successfully resisted or co-opted attempts to impose such oversight; (vi) that the courts were in any event content with the role they were assigned under the 1894 Act, and generally deferred to the executive in land acquisition cases; (vii) that the land-acquiring executive, although hostile to and unencumbered by meaningful legislative and judicial oversight, as a general rule displayed a legal fastidiousness; (viii) that, despite an appearance of impartiality, land acquisition bore the stain of imperialism. These theses are advanced in the course of explaining the failure of the forgotten Kelkar Bill (1927), an attempt by the Maharashtrian nationalist N. C. Kelkar (1872–1947) to enact far-reaching amendments to the Land Acquisition Act 1894. Kelkar’s fellow nationalists withheld their open support from the measure and thereby guaranteed its failure: a counterintuitive choice that, it is argued, exemplifies the tactical compromises of nationalism.
Supervisor: Getzler, Joshua Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History of Asia & Far East ; Eminent domain ; India ; History