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Report No. 130

Appendix I

Cable: Banwasi/Ashram Turra
Banwasi Seva Ashram
Govind Pur (Via Tuna)
Mirzapur (U.P.)
Dated 13th July, 1988

No. 4809/88-89

My Dear Justice Desai,

I am enclosing the copy of a letter written by Shri S. Jagannathan (Sarvodaya leader)" to the President of India regarding the Benami transactions of land in Tamil Nadu by creating a large number of Fake Trusts. Shri Jagannathan is a conscientious social worker long connected with the Sarvodaya and Bhoodan Movement was President of the All India Sarva Seva Sangh for two terms, has lead a series of Satyagrahas to successfully distribute temple and trust lands to the landless in Tamil Nadu. He had also made experiments with the help of NABARD and local banks to transfer land of the defunct trusts to the landless by way of bank purchase.

I am forwarding his letter to you to seek your valuable advice in planning an effective administrative/ legal action for the peaceful transfer of Benami land to the actual tillers.

I shall be grateful for an early response in the matter.

With deep personal regards I remain,

Yours sincerely,

His Excellency,
The President of India,
New Delhi.

Respected and Dear President,

Sarvodaya Movement, as well known to your Excellency, is engaged in the peaceful solution of the land problem for the past 30 years eversince Acharya Vinobaji started the Bhoodan Movement in 1951 and LAFTI is a registered organisation of Sarvodaya for a special experiment of distributing land to the landless poor through bank operations and Government participation, a non-violent alternative to the conflicting situation in East Thanjavur due to the concentration of lands in a few hands and the highest percentage of landless labour in that area.

But during our search for the peaceful solution of the land problem we were very much worried and perturbed by the benami transactions in such a large scale throughout the country, corroding the society to a moral degradation and economic chaos denying justice to the poor. Corruption and Benami transaction are twin evils that have gripped the country to strangulation of all moral values. The recent ordinance promulgated about benami transaction (prohibition of Right to recover Property) uplifts and regenerates the Nation to great moral heights.

We submit our gratitude to the President for the ordinance promulgated at the most opportune time. We welcome whole-heartedly the speedy pronouncement of the ordinance in order to instal the moral dignity and promote the economic welfare of the country by controlling and abolishing the benami transaction. Your bold step in spite of the Parliament not in session, to take immediate action in exercise of the powers conferred by clause (1) of 123 of the Constitution will be welcomed by all sections as a wise and timely measure to raise the economic standard of the people, particularly the weaker section who will be benefitted as benamidars.

The posterity will hail the ordinance as one of historic importance for the promotion of the welfare of the poor, if the ordinance is seriously taken up and implemented in the true spirit. However it is our endeavour to point out that there may arise some discrepancies in the implementation of the ordinance as several doubts and lacunae will arise which also should be attended to in the interest of the public.

(a) The benamidars who are close relations and friends will never come forward to exercise their rights, vested on them by the ordinance, neither this servants will have the courage to claim their rights. The ordinance will be null and void by nobody exercising their rights.

(b) The persons, who are benefitted by the ordinance as benamidars may not belong to the category of the poor, as most of them engaged in professions such as doctors, engineers, business and industrial concerns etc. There should be .a clause to the effect that the benamidars benefitted by the ordinance should be below the poverty line or otherwise the lands of such benamidars above the poverty line should be taken over by the Government for distribution to landless poor.

Therefore the Government should have a machinery to identify and list out the benamidars in every state in order:-

(a) To clarify among the benamidars those who are below the poverty line.

(b) To confirm ownership for those who are below the poverty line.

(c) And to take away the other lands and distribute to the landless.

3. Besides the benami transactions in individual names of close relations, friends and servants, the other glaring benami transaction by the land owners to escape from the Land Ceiling Act is transfer of lands in the name of religious and public trusts. The land owners assume the persuade posture of religious mind and public spirit, just to hoodwink the public and the Government. Such spurious trusts created in the name of schools, hospitals dharmashalas etc. should be taken over by Government for distribution to the landless.

A sample survey taken in 10 blocks of East Thanjavur where LAFTI is operating gathered by public information in the villages, some of them verified by the records from the concerned village officers, is enclosed herewith for your kind notice. All the trusts are only in name and the trust lands are misused for their own selfish ends. The endowment of landed property as trusts during these days of huge population and when the tillers are land hungry, is anti-people and anti-social. Therefore the lands under all trusts created ever since 1947, should be taken over and distributed to the poor.

We feel the ordinance will be a boon to the people for controlling and abolishing the benami transaction in the name of individuals and trusts. We hope the ordinance will have effective clauses to control and ultimately eliminate the benami transactions through notification or necessary rules thereon ahead of the Parliamentary Legislative procedures, for the projected points referred to in our appeal.

Thanking you,

Yours sincerely,
S. Jagannathan.

Benami Transactions - A Continuum Back

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