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Supreme Court to hear plea against new land ordinance on Monday

Farmers' group in their plea filed on Thursday termed the new land ordinance as "unconstitutional".

Land-Acquisition-Bill
Land-Acquisition-Bill

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear on Monday the plea of farmers’ organisations challenging legality of the fresh promulgation of the land acquisition ordinance by the Narendra Modi-led government.

“We will have it on Monday,” a bench comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice Arun Mishra said, when senior advocate Indira Jaisingh, appearing for farmers’ organisations sought urgent hearing of the petition.

The farmers’ organisations, in their plea filed on Thursday, challenged the re-promulgated land ordinance, terming it as “unconstitutional” and ultra vires of the Constitution and as a “colourful exercise of power” by the executive usurping law-making powers of the legislature.

The petition was filed by Bharatiya Kishan Union, Gram Sewa Samiti, Delhi Grameen Samaj and Chogama Vikas Avam, seeking a direction to restrain the government from acting upon in furtherance of the Right to Fair Compensation & Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015.

The farmers’ bodies said the government’s action in promulgating successive ordinances bypassing the legislative process of Parliament was not only “arbitrary and violative” of Article 14 but also a “fraud on the Constitution” itself.

They said government’s action in re-promulgating the ordinance was “malafide” and thus open to challenge.

The government “deliberately” did not move the 2015 bill for discussion in the Rajya Sabha after its passage in the Lok Sabha between March 10 and 20 “due to lack of its numbers, political will or consensus,” the petition has said in which Ministries of Law and Justice, Parliamentary Affairs, Home Affairs, Rural Development and Cabinet Secretariat have been made parties.

The petition termed the continuation and re-promulgation of ordinances as “colourful exercise of power” on Executive’s part and said that in a democratic process, people cannot be governed by laws made by the Executive.

The petitioners also said the “deliberate proroguing” of the Rajya Sabha on March 28, “whilst it was in Budget session only for the oblique and malafide purpose of re-promulgating the impugned Ordinance goes against the very spirit and raison de’etre underlying Article 123 of the Constitution”.

The plea contented that the government has abandoned all principles of Constitutional morality by re-promulgating the ordinances.

It said the discretionary power of the President to promulgate ordinances has to be exercised “judiciously” and within the strict paradigm of circumstances, circumscribing the exercise of such discretion under Article 123.

The law-making function under the Constitution was vested in Parliament, it added.

“It is submitted that if the Executive was permitted to continue the provisions of an ordinance by issuing successive ordinances without submitting the same to the voice of the Parliament, it is nothing but usurpation by the Executive of the law-making powers of the Legislature,” the petition said.

It said merely because the executive does not have the numbers in the Rajya Sabha, nor the political will, it cannot be permitted to continue the law-making exercise by way of an Ordinance.

“Life and liberty of citizens cannot be regulated by Ordinances” and the “Executive cannot indirectly arrogate to itself the law making function of the Legislature,” it said.

“The ordinance making power under Article 123 was never meant to be a substitute to overcome lack of numbers of the executive in one house,” the petition said.

1 The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 seeks to Amend the Act of 2013 (LARR Act, 2013).
2 The Bill creates five special categories of land use: 1. defence, 2. rural infrastructure, 3. affordable housing, 4. industrial corridors, and 5. infrastructure projects including Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects where the central government owns the land
3 The Bill exempts the five categories from provisions of the LARR Act, 2013 which requires the consent of 80 per cent of land ownersto be obtained for private projects and that of 70 per cent of land owners for PPP projects.
4 The Bill allows exemption for projects in these five categories from requiring Social Impact Assessment be done to identify those affected and from the restrictions on the acquisition of irrigated multi-cropped land imposed by LARR Act 2013.
5 The Bill brings provisions for compensation, rehabilitation, and resettlement under other related Acts such as the National Highways Act and the Railways Act in consonance with the LARR Act.
6 The Bill changes acquisition of land for private companies mentioned in LARR Act, 2013 to acquisition for ‘private entities’. A private entity could include companies, corporations and nonprofit organisations.Hindu

 

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