In a major course correction, the 153 amendments that Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh is likely to introduce to the Land Acquisition Bill in Lok Sabha on Tuesday includes a watered-down retrospective clause.
The cabinet, which met last Thursday, had established the sanctity of awards declared for ongoing land acquisition processes under the existing Land Acquisition Act, 1894 across the country. This was a rejection of Jairam’s proposal to apply the new legislation to land acquisition cases if the award had been made, but administrative steps of disbursal of compensation and possession of land remained to be completed.
“Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act on and from the 17th December 2012 in case of land acquisition proceedings initiated under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, where an award under said section 11 has been made, then such proceedings shall continue under the provisions of the said Land Acquisition Act, as if the said Act has not been repealed,” reads the amendment approved by the cabinet.
The Indian Express has accessed the entire list of 153 amendments that Jairam plans to introduce. The minister, sources said, has informed Parliament officials of his intention to move a motion under Rule 388 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha to amend the pending Bill.
Jairam’s earlier proposal had said, “where an award under said section 11 has been made, but the possession of the land has not been taken or the compensation has not been paid, then all provisions of this Act relating to the determination of compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement shall apply.”
This change is likely to instill an added sense of certainty in ongoing land acquisitions proceedings where an award has been declared within the last five years, because they cannot be re-opened afresh for consideration under the new Act.
Among other things, Jairam also intends to change the nomenclature of the Bill to Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2012.
However, the cabinet appears to have retained Jairam’s contentious proposal that provides for retrospective application of all land acquisition cases that are five years old or older, where either “possession of the land has not been taken” or the “compensation has not been paid” or “compensation has not been accepted by the individuals” or compensation “has been accepted under protest”.
In these cases, the official amendments envisage that land acquisition proceedings initiated under the previous Act