Assembly passes Land Reforms Bill for removing restrictions on purchase of land by non-agriculturists

Land ceiling limit retained after Minister Ashok moves amendment

For enabling non-agriculturists to purchase farm land, the Karnataka Land Reforms (Second) Amendment Bill, 2020, was passed in the Legislative Assembly on Saturday.

The Bill, which was passed after an amendment to the ceiling of land in the original Bill, removed restrictions on purchase of agricultural land. It said the purchaser of agricultural land should use the land for agricultural purposes only.

It said ‘A’ class irrigated land should be sold only for agricultural purposes and it banned sale of lands granted to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

During the discussion on the Bill in the House, Revenue Minister R. Ashok moved an amendment and retained the land ceiling limit mentioned in the Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961.

An ordinance and the original Bill proposed to double the ceiling areas for a person or a five-member family from 54 acres to 108 acres (10 to 20 units) and for a 10-member family from 108 acres to 216 acres (20 to 40 units).

But the Minister moved the amendment and retained the 1961 Act’s ceiling of 54 acres (10 units) for a person or a five-member family and maximum of 108 acres (20 units) for a 10-member family.

The Bill omitted section 79 (A), which removed income limit for purchase of land. Earlier, a person having non-agricultural income upto ₹25 lakh was eligible to buy farm land. It deleted Section 79 (B), which under the 1961 Act barred non-agriculturalists from owning the land. The Bill omitted 79 (C), which earlier empowered the tahsildar to scrutinise the purchase of land and issue notice in case of violation of 79 (A) and 79 (B).

The Bill deletedSection (80), which under 1961 Act barred transfers of lands to non-agriculturists in the form of sale, gift or exchange.

The amendments would nullify 13,814 cases related to violation of the provisions of section 79 (A) and 79 (B). These cases were in the courts against non-agriculturalist persons who have purchased the land for violation of the two sections of the 1961 Act.

Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah termed the Bill as “anti-farmer and anti-people” and alleged the government was hand in glove with private housing societies and corporate lobby. He said the Bill sounded the death knell for food security and small and marginal farmers.

Senior members R.V. Deshpande, and H.K. Patil too spoke on the bill and opposed it. The Congress members staged a walkout before the Minister’s reply on the Bill.

JD(S) leader and former Chief Minister H. .D Kumaraswamy welcomed the reduction in the ceiling of lands and narrated the difficulties he had faced when he purchased land at Bidadi in Ramanagaram in the mid-1980s.

In the reply, Mr Ashok said the Cabinet sub-committee formed during the Siddaramaiah government had recommended deletion of sections 79 (A, B, C), and 80 of the 1961 Act, and also said it exposed the Congress members’ “double standards”.

He read out statements made by Mr. Deshpande and D.K. Shivakumar on the floor of the house in the past in support of the deletion of the sections in the interest of farmers and others. Farmers’ leader late M.D. Nanjundaswamy too demanded deletion of these sections when he was a member of the House, Mr. Ashok added.

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