New Delhi, Aug 29: Congress today picked up holes in the notification route on the Land bill insisting that though the Law Ministry had opposed the move, Government went ahead with it with an eye on Bihar Assembly polls.
"This has been done only with a view to blunt the opposition campaign in Bihar polls against the BJP that it was anti-farmer", party leader Jairam Ramesh told reporters.
Ramesh alleged that the move was an "insult to Parliament" as it was an attempt to bypass it by a government which "slept for seven long months" after coming to power" and had failed to bring amendments to relevant Acts before the 2014 end deadline.
At the same time, he made it clear that the Congress was only against the manner in which it has been done by the government and not against extending benefits to those whose land is acquired under the land law. Giving up the ordinance route, government had yesterday issued an 'order' to include 13 central Acts like National Highway and Railways Acts to extend benefits to those whose land is acquired under land law.
The order issued by the government under the removal of difficulties clause (Section 113) in the Land Act now extends the provisions relating to the determination of compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement to all cases of land acquisition under 13 central acts which were left out in the 2013 law. By using the clause, government has done away with the need to issue the controversial land ordinance for a record fourth time.
The ordinance will lapse on August 31, six weeks after the commencement of the Monsoon session -- July 21. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi is understood to be in favour of issuing such an order, but the Law Ministry said only an ordinance can be brought to bring the 13 acts under the ambit of the land law.
As per the section 105 (3) of the Land Acquisition Act 2013, Centre may, within one year of the enactment of the law, extend benefits of the first and second schedule of the Act (provisions relating to the determination of compensation and rehabilitation and resettlement) to the acquisitions made under 13 other central acts.
In its response, the Law Ministry said that since the desired notification under section 105 of the Act has not been issued and the one year period has already been lapsed "doing so at this belated stage may not be legally tenable".
It said it can now be done only through a legislation or an Ordinance. Since a Joint Committee of Parliament is examining the amended land bill brought by the NDA government, the government did not touch upon the controversial clauses which were part of the ordinance.