In what seems to be a climbdown on the land acquisition Bill following stiff opposition inside and outside Parliament, Union Law Minister D. V. Sadananda Gowda has expressed the government’s willingness to amend certain clauses.
Mr. Gowda said his government was open to retaining the clause in the UPA II’s Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, which allows land to be returned to farmers if it lies unused for five years after acquisition.
He said this clause could be amended in favour of the farmers, except in cases in which land is acquired for long-gestation projects such as atomic plants.
In an interview aired by India Today TV on Wednesday, the Law Minister said there was even a rethink on the contentious issue of the consent clause that the government wanted to do away with.
Mr. Gowda said the government was now open to accepting a diluted consent clause of 51 per cent if suggested by the Parliament Standing Committee.
The original 2013 law had required consent from 70 per cent of the affected landowners in case of their lands being acquired for a public-private partnership project. If acquisition is meant for private companies, 80 per cent of the affected landowners should agree.
On the ownership of land in industrial corridors, Mr. Gowda confirmed that it would be owned by investors and industrialists.
Speaking on the NJAC, the constitutionality of which is now being debated before a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, Mr. Gowda articulated the government’s line in the court that judicial independence did not mean autonomy over appointments of judges.
He asserted that independence of judiciary came only after a person was appointed judge and not in the manner of appointment.