Land bill not to come before Winter Session

The UPA law stated the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 will continue to apply where an award has already been made.

Days after the government climbed down on the contentious Land Acquisition Bill and gave every indication that it was keen on a consensus, it did another volte face on Monday. The Bill will now be taken up only in the winter session of Parliament after the Bihar elections, in which the BJP hopes to replace the incumbent Janata Dal-United government.

This became clear after the chairperson of the joint parliamentary committee examining the Bill, S.S. Ahluwalia, refused the Congress time till Tuesday to submit a dissent note after the panel failed to evolve consensus on three key provisions. This included the one on return of unutilised land to its owners after five years and the retrospective clause which the Congress wanted to put to vote. The chairman’s refusal, the Congress said, was because the ruling party MPs were in a minority within the panel.

Questions before govt.

Mr. Ahluwalia, non-Congress sources on the committee told The Hindu, was of the view that if a consensus could not be achieved in the report, then the Bill would get stuck in the Rajya Sabha once again. It was better, therefore, he said, that the submission of the report be deferred to a later date.

The Union Cabinet, top government sources said, will now decide whether it should adopt the ordinance route for the fourth time in a little over eight months: the current ordinance will lapse in early September. The sources said if the government decided to do so, it would also have to weigh whether it should re-promulgate the current ordinance or promulgate a fresh one with the changes accepted in the joint panel.

Last week, its BJP members agreed to restore provisions relating to consent, social impact assessment and penalties for defaulting officers and acquiesced in dropping the industrial corridor idea and in replacing the draft Bill’s “private entity” with “private company” as in the 2013 Act. Last week’s turnaround is learnt to have upset the corporates; forcing the Government to rethink on these concessions.

The decision to seek further extension till the first week of the Winter Session came after the BJP and Congress clashed over the latter’s opposition to any changes in the retrospective clause of the bill dealing with compensation of land acquired under the 1894 Act that was replaced by the 2013 law passed by the UPA government. Congress sources said if the BJP’s version was accepted, a large number of claimants would be left out.


The BJP, on its part, is pointing to the residents of Malcha Village, now Raisina Hill — on which Rashtrapati Bhawan and North and South Blocks stand — who have dragged the central government to court for not giving them the compensation that was promised to them for taking over their ancestral land nearly 103 years ago.

Meanwhile, sources in the panel said former Rural Development Minister and Congress member on the committee Jairam Ramesh stormed out when told that his party was engaging in “delaying tactics.” However, Mr Ahluwalia later persuaded him to return.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 7:52:19 PM |

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