Andhra 1st Oppn state to okay Centre's Land Acquisition Bill

New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind has given assent to 11 more bills passed by 10 State Assemblies recently, including Andhra Land Acquisition Bill which is in line with the Central Government's pending Land Acquisition Bill. Andhra is first among the Opposition party-ruled States which adopted the Land Acquisition Bill of the Central Government. The Central legislation is still in Parliament as a Joint Parliamentary Committee could not arrive at consensus till date. The BJP-ruled Governments already passed similar legislations in the past and got the assent of the President.

The other Important bills which got the Presidential assent are Indian Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill and Apartment Ownership Amendment Bill of the Maharashtra Government, Amendment to Gujarat Land Ceiling Act of the State. The President has also given assent to Land Acquisition Bill of Jharkhand which earlier the Central Government returned with some amendments. The bills of Bihar, Assam and Chhattisgarh also got assent from the President.

These bills were given assent from May to July first week of this year. President Kovind has given assent to total number of 41 bills since January this year. A source in the President Secretariate said that the President believes in quick disposal of the pending bills of the different State Governments.

According to officials, the Bill passed by the Andhra Assembly was similar to the bills passed by the Telangana and Gujarat Governments. With these developments, the Land Acquisition Act of 2017 would expedite land acquisition for projects related to infrastructure and building new capital of the bifurcated State. The amendments provide for 150% of the price fixed by the Government in case acquisition is less that 100 acres of land. The State Government passed the Bill much earlier but the Central Government asked many queries about its implementation. Consequently, the bill got delayed.

The Maharashtra Criminal Procedure Code Amendment Bill might create a controversy in the State as no FIR could be filed against the public servants without consent from competent authority. With the amendments to the Section 156 and 190 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, police will not be able to register an FIR against an MLA or a civil servant, even if so directed by a court, without the sanction of the Speaker of the Assembly.

The State Government said the move was intended to protect Government servants and elected representatives from frivolous, politically motivated cases and public interest litigations (PILs).

In many such cases, the complaints were found to be false. The Gujarat Land Ceiling Amendment Bill was lying pending with former President Pranab Mukherjee because of protest from from the State Congress legislators and got assent from the present President Kovind. The argument given in favour of the Bill that a lot of surplus land, acquired decades ago, was lying idle in the State's urban areas. Only propose was to utilise this land for public purpose. It makes little sense for surplus land

lying in municipal corporations and municipalities to be handed over to the landless, as one cannot have agriculture in urban areas.

Similarly, Maharashtra real estate got a boost as the President has given assent to amendment to the Ownership Act to facilitate builders to get 51% consent from the tenants to rebuild the old building. Earlier it was mandatory to get 100% consent.

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