Amidst the controversy hovering over the Land Acquisition Bill, the union government has issued an ‘order’ to continue the benefits for farmers under the 2013 Land Acquisition Act. In doing this, the government effectively decided not to take the land ordinance route, after it was re-promulgated thrice earlier.
The government will let the third land ordinance lapse on August 31, that is six weeks after the monsoon session of Parliament began on July 21. The government was unable to pass the land bill in the last session of Parliament which ended on August 13.
In issuing the statutory order, the government has included 13 central Acts including the National Highway and Railways Acts, to extend benefits to those whose land has been acquired under the land law. The order was issued by the government under the removal of difficulties clause (Section 113) in the Land Act. The order now extends provisions of determining compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement to all cases of land acquisition under 13 central acts which were left out in the 2013 land law.
The decision to issue the order was taken on Friday but there was a difference in opinion between the Attorney General of India and the Ministry of Law and Justice. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi was in favour of this order while Law Ministry said only an ordinance can be brought to bring the 13 Acts under the ambit of the land law.
Since a Joint Committee of Parliament is already examining the amended land bill brought by the NDA government, it did not touch upon the controversial clauses which were part of the ordinance.
The principal opposition party, Congress, which has been opposing the amended bill, had fiercely attacked it when the Ordinance was last re- promulgated on May 31.
Since it is now decided that the ordinance will not be re-issued, the government may not have to prorogue the Monsoon session which was adjourned sine die on August 13 amid indications that it may be reconvened to take up the GST bill.
The Land Acquisition Act of 2013, had exempted 13 acts from its purview with the condition that they would be included under the purview of the act within one year. NDA’s ordinance brought these 13 acts under the new land law. Here, the ordinance also made significant changes in the Land Acquisition Act.
Under the amended Act, 13 legislations, including those relating to defence and national security, and to provide higher compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement benefits to farmers whose land is acquired, have been brought under the Centre’s purview.
Under the ordinance, the mandatory “consent” clause and Social Impact Assessment (SIA) will not be applicable if the land is acquired for five purposes. These include, national security, defence, rural infrastructure including electrification, industrial corridors, and building social infrastructure including Public Private Partnership (PPP) where ownership of land continues to be vested with the government.
(With inputs from PTI)