New Delhi: The contentious land acquisition bill will not come to Parliament before the Winter Session, with the Joint Committee of Parliament examining the measure today deciding to seek more time to finalize its report after Congress and TMC sought more time to study certain clauses.
The decision to seek further extension till the first week of the Winter Session came after a sharp excahge of words between BJP and Congress as the latter was opposed to any changes in the retrospective clause of the bill dealing with compensation of land acquired under the 1894 Act, which was replaced by the 2013 law passed by the UPA government.
Giving in to the demands by Congress and TMC members for more time to study certain clauses threadbare, panel Chairman S S Ahluwalia decided that the Committee should not submit its report in this session ending on August 13 and instead do so in the first week of the Winter Session. The committee was earlier given a fresh extension till tomorrow to submit its report. Following demand by Congress and TMC for more time, Ahluwalia decided to seek yet another extension from Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan as he wanted to submit a consensus report.
This means that bill will come to Parliament only after assembly elections are over in the agrarian state of Bihar, where BJP is hoping to replace the incumbent Nitish Kumar government. Congress is using the NDA bill to paint the government as “anti-farmer”. Today’s meeting was expected to evolve consensus on three key provisions including the one on return of unutilised land to its owners after five years and the retrospective clause. However, only the retrospective clause was taken up briefly during which the Congress members vociferiously opposed any change in provision 24 (2) of the UPA Act, which has been diluted in the NDA bill.
Sources in the panel said former Rural Development Minister and Congress member on the committee Jairam Ramesh walked out in a huff when told that his party was engaging in “delaying tactics”. However, Ahluwalia is learnt to have later persuaded Ramesh to return to the meeting. The UPA law stated the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 will continue to apply where an award has already been made. However, if such an award was made five years or more before the enactment of The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Act, 2013 and physical possession of land had not been taken or compensation not paid, the UPA law will apply.