This article is a compilation of Article 31A as it is. You can understand it well, that’s why its explanation is also given below, you must read it. Its explanation is also available in Hindi, for this you can use the link given below;

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Article 31A
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Article 31A

📜 Article 31A

2[31A. Saving of laws providing for acquisition of estates, etc.3[(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in article 13, no law providing for—
(a) the acquisition by the State of any estate or of any rights therein or the extinguishment or modification of any such rights, or

(b) the taking over of the management of any property by the State for a limited period either in the public interest or in order to secure the proper management of the property, or

(c) the amalgamation of two or more corporations either in the public interest or in order to secure the proper management of any of the corporations, or

(d) the extinguishment or modification of any rights of managing agents, secretaries and treasurers, managing directors, directors or managers of corporations, or of any voting rights of shareholders thereof, or

(e) the extinguishment or modification of any rights accruing by virtue of any agreement, lease or licence for the purpose of searching for, or winning, any mineral or mineral oil, or the premature termination or cancellation of any such agreement, lease or licence,

shall be deemed to be void on the ground that it is inconsistent with, or takes away or abridges any of the rights conferred by 4[article 14 or article 19]:

Provided that where such law is a law made by the Legislature of a State, the provisions of this article shall not apply thereto unless such law, having been reserved for the consideration of the President, has received his assent:]

5[Provided further that where any law makes any provision for the acquisition by the State of any estate and where any land comprised therein is held by a person under his personal cultivation, it shall not be lawful for the State to acquire any portion of such land as is within the ceiling limit applicable to him under any law for the time being in force or any building or structure standing thereon or appurtenant thereto, unless the law relating to the acquisition of such land, building or structure, provides for payment of compensation at a rate which shall not be less than the market value thereof.]

(2) In this article,—
6[(a) the expression “estate” shall, in relation to any local area, have the same meaning as that expression or its local equivalent has in the existing law relating to land tenures in force in that area and shall also include—
(i) any jagir, inam or muafi or other similar grant and in the States of 7[Tamil Nadu] and Kerala, any janmam right;
(ii) any land held under ryotwari settlement;
(iii) any land held or let for purposes of agriculture or for purposes ancillary thereto, including waste land, forest land, land for pasture or sites of buildings and other structures occupied by cultivators of land, agricultural labourers and village artisans;]
(b) the expression “rights”, in relation to an estate, shall include any rights vesting in a proprietor, sub-proprietor, under-proprietor, tenureholder, 8[raiyat, under-raiyat] or other intermediary and any rights or privileges in respect of land revenue.]
1. Ins. by the Constitution (Forty-second Amendment) Act, 1976, s. 3 (w.e.f. 3-1-1977).
2. Ins. by the Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951, s. 4, (with retrospective effect).
3. Subs. by the Constitution (Fourth Amendment) Act, 1955, s. 3, for cl. (1) (with retrospective effect).
4. Subs. by the Constitution (Forty-fourth Amendment) Act, 1978, s. 7, for “article 14, article 19 or article 31” (w.e.f. 20-6-1979).
5. Ins. by the Constitution (Seventeenth Amendment) Act, 1964, s. 2(i) (w.e.f. 20-6-1964).
6. Subs. by s.2(ii), ibid., for sub-clause (a) (with retrospective effect).
7. Subs. by the Madras State (Alteration of Name) Act, 1968 (53 of 1968), s. 4, for “Madras” (w.e.f. 14-1-1969).
8. Ins. by the Constitution (Fourth Amendment) Act, 1955, s. 3 (with retrospective effect).

🔍 Explanation

There are three sections under ‘ Saving of Certain Laws’; (Which you can see in the chart below) In this article we are going to understand the first part of it i.e. Article 30A ;

Although there was a fourth section (31D) under it, which was related to anti-national activities, but it was abolished by the 43rd Constitutional Amendment Act 1977.

These provisions have been added by amending the constitution. That is, all these provisions have not been a part of the original constitution. The main reason for adding this was to end the zamindari system and move towards agrarian reform or land reform.

Article 31 ↗️
⚫ Article  30A – Saving of laws providing for acquisition of estates, etc.
⚫ Article 30B   Validation of certain Acts and Regulations
⚫ Article 30C – Giving effect to certain Directive Principles waiving of statutes

Article 31A – Saving of laws providing for acquisition of estates, etc.

Article 31A was brought by the first Constitutional Amendment Act 1951. Its purpose was to give validity to the acquisition of Zamindari. So that whenever the land of landlords is taken away by the state, the court should not interfere in it.

The danger of interference by the court was because the right to property used to be a fundamental right. And Article 13 does not at all permit any law to come into existence which takes away the fundamental rights.

Because if this happens then any person has the right to go directly to the Supreme Court under Article 32 and it is the duty of the Supreme Court to protect the fundamental rights under any circumstances;

| first constitutional amendment 1951

The Indian Constitution was enacted in 1950, and the very next year, an amendment was introduced. This is important because the first general election was not even held yet.

Three basic changes were made in the constitution by this amendment, which you can see below;

1. Restricting the right to freedom of speech and expression – Added some restrictions by including the words ‘public order’, ‘friendly relations with foreign states’, and ‘incitement to offence’.

2. Special provisions were introduced for backward classes – Clause 4 was added to Article 15 as the country felt the need to make special provisions for backward classes or scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.

For more information, read –◾  Reservation in India [1/4]

3. Land reform –  Article 31A and Article 31B were added which exempted land reforms from constitutional scrutiny. Apart from these, the Ninth Schedule was included which included laws protected from any challenge against the violation of fundamental rights.

For more information, read –◾  Judicial review of the ninth schedule

Section 4 of the First Amendment Act, 1951 added Article 31A to the Constitution of India , providing for the saving of laws for acquisition of estates, etc.

At present, this Article is grouped under a separate group along with Articles 31B and 31C. Whose title is ‘ Saving of Certain Laws’. This title was introduced through the Constitution (Forty-second) Amendment Act, 1976.

So till now we have understood how Article 31A came into the Constitution. Let us now understand what was the need to bring this system;

Need to add Article 31A

The objective behind this amendment was to validate the acquisition of zamindari or the abolition of permanent settlement without the intervention of the courts.

In fact after the adoption of the constitution, several steps were taken by the state governments towards agricultural reform. One of those laws was the Bihar Land Reforms Act, 1950.

This act empowered the state government to acquire the property of certain zamindars. But, this Act was challenged before the Patna High Court in the case of Sir Kameshwar Singh v. Bihar Province (1951), and the Court declared it unconstitutional as it violated Article 14 of the Constitution.

The second case is Champakam Dorairajan vs State of Madras case of 1951.

In fact when a girl named Champakam Dorairajan was denied admission in a medical college in Madras just because seats were reserved for different sections of the society by a government order. So he filed a petition in the Madras High Court regarding the violation of his fundamental rights.

The case went to the Supreme Court  and the Supreme Court said that the reservation given on the basis of community violates the fundamental rights, therefore the state cannot make arrangements for reservation on the basis of caste or religion in the matter of admission, because it violates Article 16(2) And Article 29(2).

Understand it in detail – Reservation in India [1/4]

The Prime Minister of that time,  Jawaharlal Nehru ,  who was a leader of a  socialist ideology , understood that if the deprived sections of the society were to be brought into the mainstream, the constitution would have to be amended.

Because if this is not done then the Supreme Court will hang its leg every time and the deprived of the society will always remain deprived. This is how the first constitutional amendment came into existence.

And thus to put an end to the issues related to land reforms, Article 31A was introduced. This provision empowered the government to acquire any property and prohibited anyone from challenging it on the grounds of violation of the rights enshrined under Part III of the Indian Constitution.

⚫ However, remember that at that time Article 31 was not abolished, only Articles 31A and 31B were added. Article 31C was added by the 25th Constitutional Amendment Act 1971.

Article 31 was abolished in the year 1978 with the help of 44th Constitutional Amendment. And so now articles 31A, 31B and 31C are left. And in this article let us understand section 31A section wise; (There are separate articles on section 31B and 31C).

⚫ Article-31 (b) – Indian Constitution
⚫ Article-31 (c) – Indian Constitution


Sub-clause (a) : law providing for the acquisition by the state of any estate or of any rights therein

This provision applies mainly in two cases – acquisition of property by the state, or (2) abolition or modification of rights to property without acquisition.

It shall not apply when the rights of a holder are neither acquired, extinguished nor modified.

the difference between the acquisition, termination or modification of rights to an estate;

Beneficiary is the state in acquisition but not in other cases. For example, if the state takes over the property of a Jagirdar for a public purpose, it will be an acquisition under Article 31A .

If on taking land from a lessee, his rights on that property are terminated, in such a situation, if this lease is taken from a private person, then it will be termination or extinguishment . On the other hand, if this lease is under the state, then it will be acquired.

◾ The word modification may or may not mean extinguishment, as if an act which suspends the rights of the owner for a limited period would be called modification.

Overall , the main objective behind bringing in Article 31A(1)(a) was to acquire the land of zamindars and middlemen who only received rent and enjoyed constitutional protection under Articles 19(1)(f) and 31(2).

Sub-clause (b) : relating to taking over the management of the property;

This sub-section empowers the State to take over the management of any property, immovable or moveable, for a limited period. And it is not limited to industrial undertakings only but it extends to all types of property.

There are also some conditions under this ; Such as the property is taken for a limited period and not for an indefinite period, the property is taken in the public interest or for the purpose of ensuring proper management, and the property is taken by the State, etc.

Sub-clause (c): deals with the incorporation of corporations;

The object of this sub-section is to eliminate harmful competition among competing entrepreneurs working in the same field keeping in view the public interest.

Sub-clause (d) : the extinction or modification of the rights of directors or shareholders, etc.;

The voting rights that are given to the shareholders of a company are derived from the property or it is a personal right arising out of the property. This question was raised in the Chiranjeet case.

If this right is derived from property, then at that time the right to property was a fundamental right, in which case the acquisition of property by the state would have violated the fundamental rights.

To avoid this, this sub-section was introduced and it was provided that if the voting rights of the shareholders are affected by any law, then it will not be a violation of article 19(1)(f) or 31.

Sub-clause (e) : relating to the extinction or modification of rights under mining leases;

If by any law any rights are extinguished or varied by virtue of any agreement, lease or license for the purpose of exploring for or obtaining any mineral or mineral oil such law shall not be deemed to be void on the ground that it is inconsistent with any of the rights conferred by article 14 or article 19:

things to remember;

If such law is made by the Legislature of a State, the provisions of this article shall not apply to that law until such law, which has been reserved for the consideration of the President,

◾ Some important amendments were made by the 17th Constitutional Amendment Act 1964, one second proviso was added and clause 2(a)(ii) of Article 31A was also added.

By Clause 2(a)(ii) of Article 31A, Ryotwari was brought under Article 31A(1)(a). You may recall that the main objective behind bringing in Article 31A(1)(a) was to acquire the land of zamindars and middlemen who only received rent and Received protection from constitutional rights under Articles 19(1)(f) and 31(2).

But since there was no zamindari system in the whole country, Ryotwari system was running in many parts of the country (especially Madras Presidency). Under which the farmer used to be the owner of the land.

But since all the farmers did not have their own land, they also needed to be given land. That is why such land was also brought under Article 31A(1)(a). But since these people were not landlords or middlemen but were farmers, arrangements were made to pay market value for the land taken from them.

Overall , it means that if a person is currently cultivating land within the maximum limit and it is the source of his livelihood, then he cannot be deprived of his land by any law under Article 31A . unless he is compensated at market rate.

And it was made part of the constitution under the second proviso that you can see Amendment no. 5.

Article 31A(2)(a) : meaning of wealth

The basic concept in the word wealth is that the person holding the wealth is the owner of the land and has a direct relationship with the state. And usually gives land revenue to the state.

After all, to know whether there is an estate within the meaning of this article, we have to look at the law of land tenure in force in that area. There may be another word used locally for the property.

Article 31A(2)(a)(i)): Under Jagir came all the grants made to persons who were not cultivators.

Article 31A (2)(a)(ii): Under this, Ryotwari has been talked about which we have understood above.

Article 31A (2)(a)(iii):‘ Waste land or forest land’ will come within the definition of estate under this clause only when it is held for purposes subsidiary to agriculture or is let out on rent.

Article 31A(2)(b): the expression “right”, in relation to any estate, includes any proprietor, sub-proprietor, under-proprietor, tenure-holder, ryot, inferior tenant or other intermediary any rights vested in and any rights or privileges in respect of land revenue.

So overall this is Article 31A, I hope you have understood. To understand other article, you can use the link given below.

⚫ Article-31 (b) – Indian Constitution
⚫ Article-31 (c) – Indian Constitution

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Disclaimer - The articles and their interpretations presented here are based on the original Constitution (latest edition), DD Basu's commentary on the Constitution (mainly) and various scholars of the Constitution (whose writings are available in newspapers, magazines and audio-visuals on the Internet). We have just tried to make it interesting and easy to understand.