NEW DELHI: In what could be interpreted as a tactical retreat ahead of the Bihar poll, the Centre went back to the UPA’s 2013 Land Bill to extend the benefit of four times market compensation under those 13 laws which were earlier exempted.
The NDA government is set to allow the contentious ordinance to lapse. As its bill is with the parliamentary panel, the government has decided to wait for the report before making a fresh pitch for its legislation.
In an order issued on Friday, the Centre used the section 113 (1) of the Land Acquisition Act (called Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013) to extend the “benefits” available to the land owners under the Act to similarly placed land owners whose lands are acquired under the 13 Central enactments specified in the Fourth Schedule.
These are acts like Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites, Atomic Energy Act, Land Acquisition (Mines) Act, Metro Railways Act, National Highways Act, Electricity Act, Railways Act. As 80 percent of land is acquired under these 13 acts, the benefits of compensation and rehabilitation to would apply to them.
The government’s use of UPA’s act has been forced by two factors. One, as the parliament has not been prorogued, the land ordinance —which will expire on August 31 — could not have been re-promulgated.
The government had not prorogued the house, as it wanted to reconvene it for passing the GST bill. Second, the NDA’s amended land bill is under consideration of the joint parliamentary panel, which will submit its report during the winter session in November.
The government will go with the recommendations of the committee to bring its own amended bill. Till then, it’s the UPA bill.
Sources said that government’s top law officer, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, had also advised the government that as ordinance cannot be brought because Parliament has not been prorogued, and hence the ruling dispensation went back to the 2013 act to extend the compensation benefits.
The 2013 Act had come into force on January 1 2014. One of the sections of this law had mandated that 13 exempted Acts be brought under it within one year from the date of commencement of this Act. As the deadline for this draft notification was December 2014, the NDA had brought an ordinance. The order will not apply in J&K and union territories.