Protests in Parliament over Land Acquisition Bill

HYDERABAD: The Land Acquisition Bill, which has kicked up a political storm, was introduced in the Lok Sabha amid vociferous opposition and a walk out by the Congress while non-NDA members in the Rajya Sabha slammed the legislation on Tuesday for being anti-farmer.

The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill 2015, which was tabled in the Lower House, seeks to replace an ordinance promulgated in December 2014.

Minister for Rural Development Birender Singh, who introduced the Bill, said the Government was willing to discuss the objections received from the members as and when the Bill was taken into consideration. However, Congress members, who stridently opposed the Bill at the introduction stage itself, staged a noisy walk out.

Congress governments promulgated 639 ordinances: Jaitley

The NDA Government faced flak in the Rajya Sabha too with Mr. Anand Sharma (Congress) leading the charge. Supported by the other Opposition parties, the Congress leader accused the Government of “bypassing” Parliament to benefit corporate houses at the cost of farmers and small landowners.

The Congress and three other parties had given notice under Rule 267 for suspension of the business on the ground that the Government had bypassed Parliament to make changes in a law that was passed in 2013 through consensus of all political parties including the BJP.

However, Finance Minister and Leader of the House Arun Jaitley, in a spirited rebuttal, said 639 ordinances had been promulgated since 1950 of which 80 per cent were done under the watch of Mr. Anand Sharma’s party. Of them 70 ordinances were promulgated under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, a leader respected by all.  Also, many ordinances that were promulgated multiple times.

Mr. Jaitley pointed out that no law could be passed without the Parliament’s approval and there was no question of bypassing it. He reminded members that a Bill to convert the ordinance into an Act was listed for introduction in the Lok Sabha. It would be brought to the Rajya Sabha for discussion after consideration by the Lower House.

Mr. Anand Sharma said ordinances under Jawaharlal Nehru’s Government were promulgated over a period of 17 years under extraordinary circumstances after the Constitution came into being in 1950. Mr. Sharad Yadav of the JD (U) said the Government was bulldozing on Parliamentary scrutiny while Ms. Mayawati (BSP) said the passage of the Land Acquisition Bill in 2013 was preceded by extensive consultations.

Meanwhile, activist Anna Hazare and several other leaders including Medha Patkar staged a dharna at Jantar Mantar protesting against the Land Acquisition Bill.  Ms. Patkar also condemned the Andhra Government for arm-twisting farmers in Krishna-Guntur belt to hand over their lands for land pooling to build the new capital.

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