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Firms can no longer buy SC, ST land

In a significant ruling, the Supreme Court said on Thursday that the land belonging to Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes cannot be bought by non-Dalits, including companies, as such transactions are unconstitutional.

A bench of Justice K S Radhakrishnan and Justice Dipak Misra gave the verdict on an appeal by the Rajasthan government against the state high court's order holding such a sale to be valid in law. The high court had passed its order on an appeal by a firm, Aanjaney Organic Herbal Pvt Ltd, against the refusal by the state authorities to recognise or grant mutation to the purchase of a plot by the company from a person belonging to a Scheduled Caste.

'The act is a beneficial legislation, which takes special care to protect the interest of the members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Section 42 [of the SC, ST Act] provides some general restrictions on sale, gift and bequest of the interest of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe, in the whole or part of their holding.

'The reason for such general restrictions is not only to safeguard the interest of the members of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe, but also to see that they are not being exploited by the members of non-Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe,' said Justice Radhakrishnan, writing the judgement for the bench.

That property was purchased on 26 September 2005 through a registered sale deed for a consideration of Rs 60,000.
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