The breach of land laws in Jharkhand

By Gladson Dungdung

Infochange 29 November, 2008 

The non-Adivasis used many tricks for acquiring Adivasis’ land. The best way of buying Adivasis land is get marry to an Adivasi girl and register the land in her name. The honest implementation of legislations and recommendations would be panacea to address the land issue of the Adivasis.

A building on Adivasis' land in Bokaro
A building on Adivasis' land in Bokaro

The Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act 1908 known as the safeguard to the Adivasis prohibits the transfer of Adivasis’ land to non-Adivasis, marked 100 years on 11th November 2008. The Adivasis across the state raised their voices for immediate action against breaching of the law as they have already lost more than 22 lakh acres of land since independence. The case of an Adivasi village ‘Tetulia’ situated nearby the steel city Bokaro in Jharkhand is one of the crucial examples of land alienation through tricks and breach of the laws. The village has lost it identity and now known as Bari Cooperative, where 250 posh buildings have replaced the mud houses and non-Adivasis have become the owners of the land of the Santha Adivasis. 45 Santhal families had been living in the village but their lands were grabbed, they were forced to leave the place and few who survived live in mud houses outside of the cooperative area.

The ‘Bari Cooperative Society’ was established in 1980 by two property dealers R.K. Singh and B.K. Singh, who approached to the Adivasis with a proposal of establishing a cloth factory and promised them for jobs other than price of the land. Finally, they acquired 50 acres of land from Adivasis in the name of Bari Cooperative but the sad part is they did not even pay Rs 1 thousand per acre as promised. 40 years old Pankisto Manjhi says, “He had been given just 10 kg of rice for 3 acre of land”. 60 years old Fagu Manjhi, whose 1.27 acre of land was acquired for the Cooperative given a job of guard in monthly salary of Rs 800 but when the cooperative was closed he was left in isolation. Similarly, Kari manjhi had 9.26 acres of land in which 4.24 acres were taken by the Bari Cooperative and 2.36 acres were captured by migrant Biharis and merely 2.66 acre lands are remaining. He has filed a case in Bokaro Civil Court against the Bari Cooperative in 2006 but nothing has happened yet.

Interestingly, the land was bought in the name of establishing a garment factory but after a few days the factory was closed down and the property dealers constructed posh buildings in the land and sold these to non-Adivasis at the market rate. When the matter was brought out into light, the deputy commissioner of Bokaro, Amrendra Pratap Singh investigated it in 2005 and found that 95 percent buildings were constructed on Adivasis land, which is serious violation of Chotanagpur Tenancy Act, but unfortunately no action has been taken yet. Ironically, 28 years have already passed since Adivasis’ lands were grabbed in the name of garment factory but they are still running from pillar to post for justice and rights.

The Adivasis land alienation is not a new phenomenon in Jharkhand. It had begun during the medieval period but it arose rapidly during the British regime. The British Indian government introduced “Jamindari system” by enforcing the ‘Permanent Settlement Act’ in 1793 which created upheaval in the Adivasi community. Consequently, the series of Adivasis upsurge took place in the state. The Santhals upsurge in Santhal Pargana, Kolh revolution in Kolhan and Birsa Ulgulan in Chotanagpur, which resulted in enforcement of three legislations – Chotanagpur Tenancy Act 1908, Wilkinson’s Rules 1837 and Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act 1949. The prime objectives of these legislations were protection of Adivasis land, traditional self governance and culture. But these laws were seriously violated. 

In 1969, the Bihar Scheduled Areas Regulation Act was enforced for prevention and legalization of illegal land transfer and of Adivasis. A special Area Regulation Court was established and the Deputy Commission was given special right regarding the sell and transfer of Adivasis land. According to the provision, an Adivasi can not sell or transfer land to another Adivasi without permission of the DC. When the special court started function, a huge number of cases were registered. According to the government’s report, 60,464 cases regarding 85,777.22 acres of illegal transfer of land were registered till 2001-2002. Out of these 34,608 cases of 46,797.36 acres of land were considered for hearing and rest 25,856 cases related to 38,979.86 acres of land were dismissed.

But after the hearing merely 21,445 cases regarding 29,829.7 acres of lands were given possession to the original holders and rest remains with the non-Adivasis. Further more 2,608 cases of illegal land transfer were registered in 2003-2004, 2,657 cases in 2004-2005 and 3,230 cases in 2005-2006, which clearly indicates that the cases of illegal land alienation is increasing rapidly. According to the Annual Report 2004-2005 of the Ministry of Rural Development of the Government of India, Jharkhand topped the list of Adivasi land alienation in India with 86,291 cases involving 10,48,93 acres of land.

A prominent Adivasi leader and Vice-Chairperson of the National Commission for SC & ST Bandi Oraon has undertaken a study on the implementation of various legislative measures meant to protect illegal transfer of Adivasis lands to non-Adivasis in the State. The study was confined to 15.703 cases registered in the Ranchi Collectorate in respect of Adivasis living in and around Ranchi city. The study reveals that merely 41.46 percent cases were accepted for hearing, 26.82 percent cases were rejected and 31.72 percent cases were kept in pending. But interestingly, out of the hearing cases, actual possessions were given in 96 percent cases.

The non-Adivasis used many tricks for acquiring Adivasis’ land. The best way of buying Adivasis land is get marry to an Adivasi girl and register the land in her name. This trick was widely used by the non-Adivasis. Secondly, many Adivasis surrendered their land to the money lenders after trapped by them through loan. Besides, threatening, coercion and illegal documents were prepared for acquiring land. Authorizing the Deputy Commissioner for land transfer also caused huge loss for the Adivasis as many non-Adivasi officers justified the land transfer to non-Adivasis. In many case, the court also defined the laws in the favour of non-Adivasis. Another major fact is the CNT Act was amended in 1947 for the purpose of urbanization, industrialization and for development projects caused huge deprivation of Adivasis from the land. Finally, these legislations were utterly misused, violated and interpreted against of the Adivasis by the policy makers, bureaucrats and other non-Adivasis.

In these circumstances, how can issue be addressed? The National Advisory Council constituted by the Government of India has sent a recommendation to the government of India on 19th January 2005 has ample provisions to address the issues. According to the recommendation, the state is required to play pro-active role in monitoring the restoration of lands to the Adivasis from the non-Adivasis. The transparency and access to land records (at the village level) to Adivasis in local languages, speedy disposal of cases where Adivasis are involved and oral evidence to be considered where records are not available. All pending land disputes should be settled at the earliest so that Adivasis do not face harassment from non-Adivasis, revenue officials and others. Regular updating of land records, regular Jamabandhi and display of revenue details at the village level. Where lands are restored to Adivasis, the non-Adivasis often obtain Stay Orders from the Courts which has to be obviated. All States with Scheduled Areas should have the prohibitory clause on transfer of lands from tribals.

 The council strongly recommends that there should be no displacement of Adivasis for any project (mining, energy or any others) in the Scheduled Areas. The Land Acquisition Act may be amended in line with the PESA Act, 1996 so that the rights of the people are protected in the Fifth Schedule Areas. The setting up of industries in Scheduled Areas without assessing their impact on the Adivasis economy should stop forthwith. No agricultural land or land used for community purposes should be allowed to be transferred or purchased for setting up an industry. At no cost should the laws of the Fifth and Sixth Schedules of the Constitution be considered for amendment to open up the areas for control or ownership by private non-Adivasis individuals, industries or institutions. The honest implementation of legislations and recommendations would be panacea to address the issue.

Gladson Dungdung is a Human Rights Activist. He can be contacted at

16 thoughts on “The breach of land laws in Jharkhand”

  1. There should be some punishment to occupants the lands of Adivasis and fake caste certificates . If there is no punishment nobody cares commission
    Andhra Pradesh

  2. What if a adivasi want to sell his land to non-adivasi ,is that possible ,your blog says that a adivasi land cannot be registered in rural areas for factories ,but what in urban areas ,is that possible to registered if a adivasi want to sell his land without any pressure ,If yes how it is possible.

    Thanks in advance

  3. Could you please tell me in details that – what does CNT Act 1908 says about the tribal women’s rights and restrictions to their parent’s or husband’s land property. Why our courts are admitting such cases – in which a tribal married woman is claiming the rights to succession in her parent’s land property? It is clear that a 3rd party (non-tribe) is getting benefit by making such litigation in a tribal land.
    What is your opinion?

  4. The authorities say that a tribal land can only be transferred to another tribal if and only if both are the permanent residents of the same thana.For this they ask to submit a permanent resident certificate—Is that true or they are over emphasizing a line in the CTA 1908 to harass the parties?

  5. it is most unfortunate to carry cnt act in the name adivasi`s stead with some safeguards tribal land should be free to sell to non tribal.this act lost its relevancy

  6. As authority says that only tribal can sale his land to another tribal if he/she has the same police station. I have seen many acres of land near by Chas (Bokaro). Which is of Our Jharkhand Mukti Morch’s Supremo Mr. Shibu Soren. What will he do with that plot of land? Will he sell to his relative one who belong from the same Police Station? There are lot of example in Jharkhand’s adivasi who have many acre land but still they are just surviving their life. Because who else adivasi can buy his land… Our Jharkhand has more adivasis who want to sell their land because they know that much land is not needed for them…. If having many acre land they are surviving in poverty then what is the need of that land for him… So, I belive that they should keep as much land as they need and rest of land should sell to anyone whom they want to sell. By that they may change their lifestyle and can able to get their children a good education.

  7. I have been in Jharkhand for past 3 years , I have studied in detail and came to conclusion that “Any thing is possible in Jharkhand if u have mussle and money power”, all leaders and burocracy are involved in land scandles across the state.
    Even so called Adivasi leaders are mostly in the business, who is thinking for development?, everybody is thinking for self development including all Adivasi leaders.
    No wonders u will find CNT act amended for land mafias of the state.

  8. Well the framer of the constitutions of India had genuin concerne for the people belonging to weaker sections of the Indian societies. Adivasi community was certainly in their mind. Today is really painful to note that the people with ulterior motive are hell bent to assert their rights where there is no right at all by means of money and power. Anyway this is India whwere money and power prevail over the tears of the weaker sections. Galdson, you are really on right to point out the hard realities which the Indian eye fail to see and the heart fail to feel for the fellow suffering sections. I am proud of you,

  9. I have been in Jharkhand for more than 15 yrs. It is very true that any thing may happen in Jharkhand if you have power and money.Before few months, I came to know that there is a CNT ACT 1908 which is for protection of Adivasi’s land. How unfortunate, why it was not being followed..? Was state government unknown about this act..? After a through out study I got few reasons. Actually price of a object goes high if demands of that object increases, and demand is based on need/requirement. It is well known to the country about the economical conditions of Jharkhand’s Adivasis or SC/ST. I believe, no need to describe it. CNT ACT 1908 was the demand of the time when it was published. But after more than 100 yrs, scenarios have been completely changed. Indian Constitution has been amended so many times as per the requirement and would be continue if it requires. Now the requirement of Jharkhand is development Which again depends on Jharkhandi (The people residing in Jharkhand). So, requirement is not to stop them to sell their Land, requirement is to make a law or rule by which they can sell their land on market price and no one can cheat them.“ Adivasis have acres of land but they can’t use it” It is again a violation of their rights. An Act should be enforced for prevention and legalization of illegal land transfer to prevent them against fraud, not to stop them to use their rights…..Akhilesh Kumar

  10. The case is very serious in nature of law.We very clerly know that nonadiwasi or biharis are not insupport of cnt act and they are in all administrative and judicial mostly post from very long time. so they are supporting againt cnt or spt. we have to stand against them to change their attitude.

  11. well development is necessary but what tis means of development where origin people survive for their life to fight with dikus,it is well known that heavy industries bokaro,hec where origin have been vanished and dikus have been 100%. is it justified to development ,Mr Akhilesh if will go to the gumla interio ilaka you can really imagine the values of land,land is not only for price for adivasi land is existence of adivasis. you can take an example of bokaro steel plant and HEC plant how many adivasis are their in higher post and overall percentage is how much can you imagine? this is fact boss ,you canot ignore.

  12. These acts were made 100-200 years ago to protect the Adiwasis and schedule casts from outsiders and cunning people when they were illiterate, downtrodden,and not much clever to protect themselves. In those days they were cheated,exploited,and looted badly and so these acts were made, but now today, due to these acts and rules, they are being exploited again and forced to live in poverty. I know many adivasis in Ranchi who even after having acres of land in prime location worth crores of rupees, but earning there livelihood by working as servants or maids.Value of their land is stagnant at lowest point where value of lands of upper cast is going high like a missile.Voices raised in support of CNT act or other such acts are only to gain cheap popularity by some politicians with a cunning intention to keep the adivasis in poverty for ever.
    Thus, the adiwashis brothers were exploited 100 years ago, and being exploited today also.These acts must be scrapped at the earliest. Instead,government should give emphasis on educating them.

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