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Disturbed Area (Amendment) Act: Gujarat high court stays govt from issuing notification

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The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday directed the state government not to issue notification under the amended Disturbed Area Act section 3(1)(ii) & (iii) until the next date of hearing on February 3, 2021. The division bench of Gujarat High Court headed by Chief Justice Vikramnath has issued a notice to the state government in the matter.

The petitioner challenged several provisions of the Disturbed Area (Amendment) Act stating that it formalizes ghettoization and opposes pluralism which is against the Constitution. The petition filed through advocate Muhammad Isa Hakim submitted that due to identity-based segregation, the amended Act violates the foundational constitutional values of fraternity, tolerance, brotherhood, pluralism, and secularism.

What is the argument against the Disturbed Areas Act?

The amended Act is grossly unconstitutional as it seeks to achieve segregation of communities based on the traits of residents of a particular geographical area. The 1991 Act through amendment has been misused as a tool to discriminate against minorities and prevent them from purchasing a property in non-muslims areas, resulting in the creation of religious ghettoes such as Juhapura in Ahmedabad.

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The Act empowers collectors to reject applications seeking permission to transfer immovable property in favour of religious minorities in predominantly majority areas. The act furthers religious ghettos and subverts ‘secularism’, the petitioner said.

The concept of “proper clustering of one community” and its usage in Sections 3, 5, and 16A of the Act effectuates segregation of citizens on grounds of community, religion, race, or any other uncommon aspect of identity, thereby perpetuating the creation of ghettos or enclaves in the state.

The petition further said that the Act violates the dignity of individuals especially those belonging to the minority community. It is a frontal attack on the diversity, the composite culture, and the multiculturalism of the country, the petition said.

What is the Disturbed Areas Act?

The Disturbed Areas Act, 1991 was enacted to address the panic sales resulting in mass inter-area migration of communities that was happening in the aftermath of the riots in Ahmedabad. The Act was enacted to declare the certain transfer of immovable properties in the disturbed areas to be void and to temporarily prohibit the transfer of immovable properties in such areas.

 

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