Land encroachment law has a long way to go

Earlier this month, the State Cabinet took a decision to give effect to the Karnataka Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Bill through an ordinance, to pave the way for setting up special courts exclusively to deal with land encroachment cases so that speedy justice could be delivered.

There was much anticipation among the public that the bill would soon become law. Governor H R Bhardwaj, too, had expressed his view that if the government was serious about dealing with encroachments, he was willing to pass the ordinance.

The Governor’s remark came in the context of the government acting on a report by a task force on land encroachment headed by former additional chief secretary V Balasubramanian. The report mentioned that more than 40,000 acres had been encroached upon, in and around Bangalore.

Official sources in the Law Department, however, point out that a ‘presidential recommendation’ is required before the bill is sent to the Governor for promulgation of the ordinance. As the bill has provisions, which are repugnant to or inconsistent with the contents of the Transfer of Property Act 1882, a Central legislation, clearance from Rashtrapati Bhavan is required, the officials said. 

Even if the government decides to get the bill passed in the legislature, it will have to be sent for President’s assent, eitherway a time-consuming process, the officials said.
It was after much dilly-dallying that the Cabinet took the decision to give effect to the Karnataka Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Bill through an ordinance. The bill, in its previous form, was passed by both Houses of the State legislature in 2007, but had been returned by the Centre with a suggestion that the State government widen the scope of the legislation by bringing lands belonging to the Wakf Boards and religious institutions also under its ambit for eviction of encroachers.

Nothing happened for four years. Finally, on September 9 came the Cabinet decision to issue an anti-land grabbing ordinance by incorporating the changes suggested by the Centre.

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