Monday, September 24, 2018

HC clears roadblock for builders, junks govt circular

In an important order which clears the way for builders to regularize long-held land parcels by selling them to agriculturists, the Gujarat high court junked a circular issued by the state government last year, restraining such regularization in the interest of farmers. 

The HC held that agricultural land held by non-agriculturist cooperative societies before the final sale to a farmer can be regularized on payment of a fixed premium amount. The HC concluded this with the observation that a cooperative-society can be termed a ‘person’ for the purpose of land holding. This was what the state government had, in fact, provided for by amending the Gujarat Tenancy and Agriculture Act in 2015. The government specifically inserted Section 63AB in the Act for this purpose. 
After making changes to the Act in 2015, which exempted land transactions involving illegal non-agriculturists from a penalty before the land got into the hands to a farmer, the government in February 2017 had issued instructions to all district collectors restraining them from regularizing land if the non-agriculturists involved were a society or a corporate body. Any sale of agricultural land to a non-agriculturist is not possible without prior permission from the collector. The 2017 government circular came as a roadblock for regularization of land parcels, which were earlier owned by societies, but whose latest owners were farmers. 

All transactions in these cases took place without permission from the collector. Six farmers owning such land in and around Ahmedabad had moved the HC because the district collector did not take a decision on regularizing the land sale and sat on their applications seeking NA (non-agricultural use) permission to develop the land. They insisted that a cooperative society can be considered a person and hence the 2017 circular cannot hinder the land regularization process. 

They also sought HC’s directions to the collector to grant NA permission. After hearing the arguments, the HC come to a conclusion that the cooperative societies, which owned the land parcels in the past, can be treated as persons and hence the provisions of Section 63AB of the Act are applicable to these cases. By junking the circular, the high court has ordered the collector to regularize the land parcels. However, the HC asked the collector to take decisions on granting NA permission according to the law only.

No comments:

Post a Comment