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Report No. 130

Appendix II

"Land belongs to God i.e. to Society" - Gandhiji

Pattaligal Pannai Ashram

(Community Training Centre for Agri. Labour)
Valivalam P.O. 610207, Thanjavur District,
Tamil Nadu, India.

28th July, 1988

Dear Shri P.N. Bhagavatiji,

I am glad Shri Prembhai of Banwasi Seva Ashram wrote to you in connection with our representation to the President regarding the benami ordinance. This benami ordinance is just a bolt from the blue promulgated by the Central Government. Where was the demand for such an ordinance, which will not have any impact in the society. The Law Commission had strongly recommended for the Abolition of the benami transfers and Tamilnadu Government passed by an overwhelming majority Benami Abolition Bill in 1982 which was vetoed by the centre when it was sent for President's assent. The present ordinance is not for abolition of the benami transfer but confirming the illegal transfers of the land owners, by bestowing ownership to the benamidars.

If the benamidar is a landless poor below the poverty line, he should be given the ownership but benamidars of non-cultivation class should not be given the ownership. After all neither the servant nor the close relation as the benamidars will never claim for ownership. The ordinance will be nullified. This ordinance will be of significance if the Government takes the responsibility of publishing the benamidars with the extent of land, survey number etc. and ownership bestowed only to those who are below the poverty line.

I had the opportunity to meet our President Shri R. Venkataramanji, Shri Bhardwaji, the Union Law Minister, and also Mrs. Sheila Dixit the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs. They were definite that the Government will not take such responsibility of publishing the names of benamidars. They are of the view that only Voluntary agencies like Sarvodaya can take up the cause of educating and organising the benamidars.

But unless and until we know who are the benamidars, it is not possible to educate or organise them. The most glaring benami transactions in large extent of land are in the name of false trust, for religion, public services etc. Both tl* President and the Law Minister said that the benami trusts cannot come under the purview of the ordinance. It will have to be dealt with by a separate Act.

The Supreme Court, a few months before, declared 25 benami trusts created by Bodh Gaya Mahant as bogus and ordered 2500 acres to be taken over and distributed to the landless. We have hundreds of such false trusts throughout the country and a sample survey of few cases in East Thanjavur is enclosed herewith for your information. I hope some of you who,are interested in the public cause will take up the matter and file a suit against such benami trust in Supreme Court. We shall gather more information of bogus trusts and send you in course of time. A press conference was held at Madras on 26th July, 1988. Herewith enclosing my press statement and also what appeared in Indian Express on 26th July. We expect your early reply.

With kind regards,

Sd /-
S. Jagannathan

Encls: aa.

Copies to:
Justice Shri D.A. Desai,
Justice Shri R.N. Mishra,
Prof. Upendra Baxi,
Shri Jose Verghese.

Benami Transactions - A Continuum Back

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