PM relents, may agree to amend Land Bill

To help break the impasse on the Bill, the Cabinet decided on adding a provision to enable the States to frame and pass their own laws.

July 22, 2015 02:10 am | Updated November 17, 2021 01:52 am IST - New Delhi

The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, deliberated on Tuesday a proposal to amend the Land Bill to give flexibility to the States to frame their own laws for land acquisition, a demand various Chief Ministers aired at the July 15 meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog.

To help break the impasse on the Bill, the Cabinet decided on adding a provision to enable the States to frame and pass their own laws, a top government source told The Hindu . So if a State decides to include in its law consent of landowners and those dependent on the land and a social impact assessment before acquisition, it will be free to do so.

Mr. Modi, at a meeting of National Democratic Alliance partners on Monday, admitted that the amendments to the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, had not gone down well with the people and made his government look anti-farmer. Sources in the ruling alliance said he had acknowledged that the perception needed to be corrected at the ground level and he would not proceed with the Bill without engaging the allies in a dialogue.

The Shiv Sena and the Shiromani Akali Dal had expressed reservations on many of the provisions of the draft Bill. At the NITI Aayog meeting, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal stressed the importance of the landowners’ consent and social impact study, and demanded that the decision to include these or not in the law be left to the State governments.

JPC to meet today

A Joint Parliamentary Committee is examining the draft Bill. The committee will meet on Wednesday when the Secretaries of Legal Affairs, Rural Development and Industrial Policy and Promotion and top Railway officials, who did a no-show at its July 16 meeting, will present the government’s views on the draft Bill as well as respond to complaints and grievances of individuals and organisations.

The proposed provision to enable the States to frame and pass their own laws can be introduced under Section 254 (2) of the Constitution, which allows the States to frame and pass specific laws on a Union Act. At present, 78 laws are in use in various States on the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, all passed by them under Section 254 (2).

A source said that if the government succeeded in pushing the Bill through after adding this new provision, then the BJP-ruled States of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan could take the lead. “The enabling provision is aimed at encouraging cooperative federalism among the States … Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan will move quickly to use it to complete the land acquisition for key projects such as the industrial corridors that could then be showcased … in this way, these States will be able to enhance their attractiveness to other States.”

The feedback to the government from international investors is that while the delay in pushing the Land Bill through Parliament is not a showstopper for the economy, it does send out the message that despite its majority, the Modi government is unable to push legislation, a source said.

Highlights: day 1 of monsoon session of Parliament

1Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day, following uproar over the Lalit Modi issue.
2Government said it is not formulating any policy for implementing ‘One Rank One Pension Scheme’ for paramilitary forces.
3Congress members forced three adjournments in the pre-lunch session making both Question Hour and Zero Hour a casualty, even as Leader of the House Arun Jaitley offered an immediate discussion and said Ms. Swaraj could make a statement on the issue.
4BJP’s national spokesman M.J. Akbar, who won the Rajya Sabha bypolls from Jharkhand earlier this month, took oath as a Rajya Sabha Member.
5Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day after obituary references. It paid tributes to a sitting member and 13 former MPs who died in the recent past on the first day of the Monsoon session
6Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan also informed the House that TRS member from Warangal in Telangana Kadiyam Srihari had resigned on June 11 and she has accepted his resignation.
7I hope that promises made by some political parties during the last session to help good decisions in this session will be kept, Mr. Modi said ahead of the session.
8Mr. Modi stepped in to face an adamant Congress that had said it would not permit Parliament to function unless BJP leaders facing allegations from impropriety to corruption, quit.
9Countering Congress’ attack, the BJP said it was ready for discussion on all issues, including the the “scams” in Congress-ruled States. “This is nothing more than the noise of skeletons of Congress’ corruption. We are ready to discuss pending issues from ‘damaad’ to Quattrocchi,” Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said referring to the controversial land deals of Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra and the Bofors scam.
10Mr. Jaitley said: "We think they are not ready to speak, we can have discussions post 2 p.m. I even proposed Sushma Swaraj will participate or even give a statement first. The Opposition wants to disrupt the House. We are ready for discussion in any form at any time."

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