The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval to amend the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015. Changes in the provisions of the Act will facilitate farmers to get better compensation and rehabilitation and resettlement benefits in lieu of land compulsorily acquired by the appropriate Government.
The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation & Resettlement Act, 2013 came into effect from 01.01.2014. However, it has been reported that many difficulties are being faced in the implementation of the Act. In addition, procedural difficulties in the acquisition of lands required for important national projects required to be mitigated. In order to remove them, certain amendments were made in the Act while further strengthening the provisions to protect the interests of the ‘affected families’. In view of the urgency, these were brought about by an Ordinance on 3112.2014. Subsequently, on 10.03.2015 the Lok Sabha passed the Amendment Bill to replace the Ordinance. The Amendment Bill passed by the Lok Sabha includes some further changes to the Ordinance. The important changes brought about by the amendment are as follows:
i. Compensation in accordance with the First Schedule and rehabilitation and resettlement specified in the Second and Third Schedules of the Act are extended to the thirteen Acts mentioned in the Fourth Schedule of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation & Resettlement Act, 2013, namely, – (1) The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, (2) The Atomic Energy Act, 1962, (3) The Damodar Valley Corporation Act, 1948, (3) The Indian Tramways Act, 1886, (4) The Land Acquisition (Mines)Act, 1885, (6) The Metro Railways (Construction of Works)Act, 1978, (7) The National Highways Act, 1956; ( 8) The Petroleum and Minerals Pipelines (Acquisition of Right of User in Land) Act, 1962; (9). The Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act, 1952; (10) The Resettlement of Displaced Persons (Land Acquisition) Act, 1948; (11) The Coal Bearing Areas Acquisition and Development Act, 1957 (12) The Electricity Act, 2003; (13) The Railways Act, 1989.
ii. In order to expedite the process of land acquisition for strategic and development activities such as national security or defence of India including preparation for defence and defence production; rural infrastructure including electrification; affordable housing and housing for poor; industrial corridors set up by the appropriate government and its undertakings (in which case the land shall be acquired upto 1 km on both sides of the designated railway line or roads for such industrial corridors); infrastructure projects including projects under public private partnership where the ownership of the land continues to vest with the Government, appropriate governments are empowered to take steps for exemption from “Social Impact Assessment” and “Special Provisions for Safeguarding Food Security”. In addition acquisition for such projects are exempted from the “Consent” provisions of the Act as well. However, the appropriate governments are required to ensure that the extent of land for the proposed acquisition, is the bare minimum land required for the project. The appropriate government is also required to undertake a survey of wastelands including arid land and maintain a record detailing the same.
(iii) Prior to the amendment, the provisions of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation & Resettlement (RFCTLARR) Act 2013, extended to a ‘private company’. However, as per the Companies Act, 2013, a ‘Private company’ means a company having a minimum paid-up share capital of one lakh rupees or such higher paid-up share capital, thereby restricting the provisions of the Act to such companies only and excluding other form of companies like proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, nonprofit organizations, etc. Therefore, in place of the term ‘private company’, the term ‘private entity’ has been substituted thereby including all non¬governmental entities.
(iv) Further, as The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation & Resettlement Act, 2013 was drafted prior to the passage of the Companies Act, 2013, the Act referred to the Companies Act, 1956 for the definition of ‘Company’; which is substituted by the Companies Act, 2013.
(v) In cases where land acquisition process under Land Acquisition Act, 1894 had been initiated and the Award was passed, but either possession of land was not taken or compensation was not paid, there is provision of lapsing of such proceedings after five years of passing of Award. The period during which the proceedings for acquisition of land was held up on account of any stay or injunction issued by any court is excluded for the purpose of calculation of five years period. Similarly the period where possession has been taken but compensation is lying deposited in a court or in any designated account is also to be excluded in the calculation of the five years.
(vi) Section 46 of the Act was amended to clarify that provisions relating to rehabilitation and resettlement in case of land purchased through private negotiations is applicable in cases when land is purchased by persons other than the Government, Government Company and Trust or Society aided or controlled by the Government.
(vii) To facilitate the process of hearing of objections by land losers, the authority, constituted for this purpose, shall hear such objections within the district where the land has been acquired.
(viii) When an offence under this Act is committed by any person who is employed in the Central or State Government at the time of commission of such an alleged offence, the court will take cognizance of offences under this Act provided the procedure laid down in section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 is followed.
(ix) The period provided in Section 101 for return of unutilized land has been modified to five years or the period specified for the completion of the project.
(x) The provision of “Removal of Difficulties” was made applicable to the entire Act rather than ‘Part’ as the word ‘part’ was used in the Act inadvertently. Further, the time period to remove the difficulties was extended from two years at present to five years.
The Department of Land Resources (DoLR) is administering the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act (hereinafter referred to as Act), 2013. This Act came into force on 01.01.2014 by repealing the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. It was observed that some provisions of the Act were making the implementation of the Act difficult and this made it necessary to bring changes in the Act, while safeguarding the interest of farmers and affected families in cases of land acquisition.
Accordingly, a Conference of State Revenue Ministers was organized in Delhi in June, 2014. Suggestions received from the State Governments, Union Territories, Ministries/Departments and other stake holders were considered. Further, consultation with Secretaries and officers of concerned ministries administering the Acts mentioned in the Fourth Schedule of the Act were held in October, 2014. Based on these discussions and deliberations, some amendments were proposed in the Act. Accordingly, the Cabinet in its meeting held on 29.12.2014 approved the proposal of the Department of Land Resources to amend the RFCTLARR Act, 2013 and to promulgate the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Ordinance, 2014. The Cabinet also approved the proposal of the Department to introduce a replacement bill in the Parliament to replace the Ordinance. Accordingly, RFCTLARR (Amendment) Ordinance, 2014 was promulgated on 3112.2014. The Budget Session of the Parliament that is 4th Session of the 16th Lok Sabha and 234th Session of Rajya Sabha commenced on 23.02.2015.
The Bill was taken up for consideration and passed by the Lok Sabha on 10.03.2015 incorporating the official amendments to the Bill. The Minister of Rural Development has also given notice for Motion for Consideration and Passing of the Bill Passed in Lok Sabha to the Secretary General Rajya Sabha on 13.03.2015. However, the Bill could not be taken up for consideration in the Rajya Sabha as the Rajya Sabha was adjourned on 20.03.2015.