Modi government to let Land Ordinance lapse
PM Narendra Modi announced on Sunday, during his monthly radio broadcast- 'Mann ki Baat', that the Land Ordinance which would expire on 31 Aug, will be allowed to lapse. "The government will not repromulgate ordinance, but will include 13 points to reform the land acquisition law to benefit farmers", he said. The 13 points are meant to provide direct financial benefit to the farmers.
Land Acquisition Law, 2013 comes into force
Land Acquisition in India till 2013, was governed by Land Acquisition Act of 1894. This was replaced with Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 after the parliament passed the bill in September 2013. The bill received the assent of President of India on 27 Sep 2013. The act then came into force on 1 Jan 2014.
Highlights of the Land Act, 2013
Compensation for the owners of the acquired land shall be four times the market value in case of rural areas and twice in case of urban areas. In case of acquisition of land for use by private companies, consent of 80% of the displaced people will be required. It is 70% in case of public-private partnerships. Each acquisition requires a social impact assessment.
Modi government passes land ordinance
In a bid to ease the process of acquiring land, the Union cabinet recommended to the President the promulgation of an ordinance to amend the Land Acquisition Act, 2013. This included five new categories of projects related to security and defence, infrastructure, power and affordable housings, which would not require both social impact assessment and 80% consent from landowners.
Land bill introduced in Lok Sabha
The December 2014 ordinance could not be converted into law in the budget session (though passed in Lok Sabha, it could not be passed in Rajya Sabha). It was due to lapse on 5 April. This led to the NDA government's re-promulgation of the ordinance on 3 April. The amended bill, 2015 was then later introduced in the Lok Sabha on 11 May, 2015.
Duration of the ordinance
The life of an ordinance is 6 months and it has to be approved within six weeks from the reassembly of the parliament. Hence the maximum life of an ordinance is 6 months and 6 weeks.
Land bill referred to Joint Committee
Amidst strong resistance from opposition and allies, the Land Bill 2015 was referred to a joint committee of the parliament. The government which had passed two land ordinances since Dec 2014, agreed to refer the bill to the 30-member committee, after its allies Shiv Sena and Akali Dal too opposed the bill. The joint committee will submit its recommendations in the monsoon session.
Land ordinance promulgated for the third time
President Pranab Mukherjee gave his assent to the re-promulgation of the controversial land ordinance for the third time. The union cabinet insisted that the ordinance was necessary for maintaining continuity and to ensure a compensation framework for displaced farmers. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said that the government insulted the parliament by re-promulgation as the joint parliamentary committee was already looking into the bill.
Joint committee to seek more time
The joint parliamentary committee set to review the land bill was expected to seek a week's extension. The committee headed by SS Ahluwalia was scheduled to submit its report on 21 July, the first day of the upcoming monsoon session. But the extension could push it to second week of the session. With this, passage of the bill in the monsoon session seems unlikely.
Land bill faces rejection by SJM
The Land Acquisition Bill suffered a setback when SJM-Swadeshi Jagran Manch, a RSS-affiliate rejected the bill, expressing its concerns to the Joint Parliamentary Committee. Ashwini Mahajan, convenor of SJM said that the social-impact assessment clause should not be given up and that consent should be taken from majority of the farmers. With this, SJM joins several other RSS-affiliates to oppose the proposed land reforms.
Joint Committee to submit report in winter session
Amid the opposition from MPs of Congress, Trinamool and the Left, S S Ahluwalia, chairman of the Parliamentary Joint Committee proposed that the report be postponed till the winter session of the parliament. His proposal received support from various parties. The committee's delay now puts a question mark on the fate of the prevailing land ordinance that expires on August 31.
Government issues notification on Land Bill
Government had issued an 'order' to include 13 central Acts like National Highway and Railways Acts to extend benefits to those whose land is acquired under land law. The order was issued under the removal of difficulties clause (Section 113) in the Land Act. Using this clause, the government has done away with the need to issue ordinance for a record fourth time.