The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015
- The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was introduced in the Lok Sabha by the Minister for Rural Development, Mr. Birender Singh on February 24, 2015. The Bill amends the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (LARR Act, 2013).
- The Bill replaces the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Ordinance, 2014.
- The LARR Act, 2013 outlines the process to be followed when land is acquired for a public purpos Key changes made by the Bill are:
- Provisions of other laws in consonance with the LARR 2013: The LARR Act, 2013 exempted 13 laws (such as the National Highways Act, 1956 and the Railways Act, 1989) from its purview. However, the LARR Act, 2013 required that the compensation, rehabilitation, and resettlement provisions of these 13 laws be brought in consonance with the LARR Act, 2013, within a year of its enactment (that is, by January 1, 2015), through a notification. The Bill brings the compensation, rehabilitation, and resettlement provisions of these 13 laws in consonance with the LARR Act,
- Exemption of five categories of land use from certain provisions: The Bill creates five special categories of land use: (i) defence, (ii) rural infrastructure, (iii) affordable housing, (iv) industrial corridors, and (v) infrastructure projects including Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects where the government owns the land.
- The LARR Act, 2013 requires that the consent of 80% of land owners is obtained for private projects and that the consent of 70% of land owners be obtained for PPP projects. The Bill exempts the five categories mentioned above from this provision of the Act.
- In addition, the Bill permits the government to exempt projects in these five categories from the following provisions, through a notification:
(i) The LARR Act, 2013 requires that a Social Impact Assessment be conducted to identify affected families and calculate the social impact when land is acquired.
(ii) The LARR Act, 2013 imposes certain restrictions on the acquisition of irrigated multi-cropped land and other agricultural land. For example, irrigated multi- cropped land cannot be acquired beyond the limit specified by the appropriate government.
- Return of unutilised land: The LARR Act, 2013 required land acquired under it which remained unutilised for five years, to be returned to the original owners or the land bank. The Bill states that the period after which unutilised land will need to be returned will be: (i) five years, or (ii) any period specified at the time of setting up the project, whichever is later.
- Time period for retrospective application: The LARR Act, 2013 states that the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 will continue to apply in certain cases, where an award has been made under the 1894 Act. However, if such an award was made five years or more before the enactment of the LARR Act, 2013, and the physical possession of land has not been taken or compensation has not been paid, the LARR Act, 2013 will apply.
- The Bill states that in calculating this time period, any period during which the proceedings of acquisition were held up: (i) due to a stay order of a court, or (ii) a period specified in the award of a Tribunal for taking possession, or (iii) any period where possession has been taken but the compensation is lying deposited in a court or any account, will not be counted.
- Other changes: The LARR Act, 2013 excluded the acquisition of land for private hospitals and private educational institutions from its purview. The Bill removes this restriction.
- While the LARR Act, 2013 was applicable for the acquisition of land for private companies, the Bill changes this to acquisition for ‘private entities’. A private entity is an entity other than a government entity, and could include a proprietorship, partnership, company, corporation, non- profit organisation, or other entity under any other law.
- The LARR Act, 2013 stated that if an offence is committed by the government, the head of the department would be deemed guilty unless he could show that the offence was committed without his knowledge, or that he had exercised due diligence to prevent the commission of the offence.
- The Bill replaces this provision and states that if an offence is committed by a government official, he cannot be prosecuted without the prior sanction of the government.
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