Land laws across India

The rules and restrictions you must be aware of when purchasing agricultural land

June 10, 2016 02:59 pm | Updated October 18, 2016 12:39 pm IST

CHENNAI, 03.03.11: Plots for sale at Ponneri near Gummedipondi.

CHENNAI, 03.03.11: Plots for sale at Ponneri near Gummedipondi. Photo:M.Karunakaran

Various states follow different procedures for the purchase of agricultural land. In certain states only an agriculturist can purchase such land whereas there are no restrictions in other states. All over India, NRIs and PIOscan’t purchase agricultural land/plantation property/farm houses. They can, however, inherit agricultural lands.

Tamil Nadu

There are no restrictions for those looking at investing in agricultural land. The maximum extent of land that can be purchased is 59.95 acres and it can be converted into non-agricultural land by the orders of the district collector, provided that no agricultural activity has been carried out in the said land during the last 10 years (prior to the date of conversion).


Only an agriculturist can purchase agricultural land. A non-agriculturist is a person whose income from any source exceeds Rs. 25 lakh per annum (earlier the limit was Rs.2 lakh per annum). Under Section 109 of Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964, social or industrial organisations can purchase agricultural land with Government approval.


Similar to Tamil Nadu, anyone can purchase agricultural land here. The maximum ceiling limit of land area as per the Kerala Land Reforms Act, 1963 is as follows:

a) In case of an adult unmarried person or a family consisting of a sole surviving member, five standard acres and the ceiling limit shall not be less than six and more than seven-and-a-half acres.

b) For a family consisting of two or more but no more than five members, 10 standard acres and the ceiling limit shall not be less than 12 and more than 15 acres.

c) If it’s a family consisting of more than five members, 10 standard acres increased by one standard acre for each member in excess of five, and the ceiling limit shall not be less than 12 and more than 20 acres.

d) For any other person, other than a joint family, 10 standard acres and the ceiling limit shall not be less than 12 and more than 15 acres.


Only an agriculturist can purchase agricultural land and if a person holds such land anywhere else in India, he can still be deemed an agriculturist in Maharashtra. The maximum ceiling limit for such land is 54 acres.


Agricultural lands can’t be purchased by a non-agriculturist. Earlier, only those residing in the State could invest in agricultural land in Gujarat but in 2012 the Gujarat High Court passed a judgement that allows any agriculturist in the country to purchase such land in the State.

Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan

There are no restrictions in these states. Earlier, under Section 17 of the Imposition of Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings Act, 1973, there were certain ceiling limits on buying agricultural land from the ‘Khatedars’ in Rajasthan. The provisions of this section were amended in 2010 and people from other states can now purchase agricultural land here. One has to, however, apply for conversion within a year from acquisition and commence the proposed non-agricultural use within three years from the date of conversion in Rajasthan.


Certain areas in the State have been declared ‘controlled areas’ and for those looking at purchasing agricultural land in these areas for non-agricultural purposes, they need to obtain a certificate indicating the change of land use from the Government of Haryana.

Himachal Pradesh

Only an agriculturist belonging to the State can purchase agricultural land here. People from other states require prior permission of the Government of Himachal Pradesh u/s 118 of HP Tenancy and Land Reforms Act. The maximum land ceiling limit in is 160 bighas or 32 acres.

West Bengal

As per the West Bengal Land Reforms Act, private ownership of agricultural land in the State is capped at 17.5 acres for irrigated areas and 24.5 acres for areas that are only rainfed. In urban areas, private ownership is capped at 7.5 cottahs or one-eighth of an acre. Only tea gardens, mills, workshops, livestock breeding firms, poultry farms, dairies, and townships are exempted from the restrictions of the Land Reforms Act.

The writer is a Chennai-based advocate and author of ‘Property Registration, Land Records and Building Approval Procedures Followed in Various States in India’

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