Lower House of the parliament on Wednesday passed a bill to amend the regulations around compensation payable for acquisition of immovable property by the Centre for defence and security purposes. The Immovable Property (Amendment) Bill was moved by Urban Development Minister Hardeep Singh Puri in the house and was adopted by a voice vote.
Puri said that the law in regard to immovable property has already been amended eleven times earlier. "This is the 12th amendment and the amendment has been brought for limited and specific purpose," the minister said.
The bill seeks to make changes in the provision that would allow the Centre to re-issue the notice of acquisition in order to ensure that the property's owner gets an opportunity to be heard.
"State has the obligation that relates to compensation. The states want to pay compensation which is fair and just compensation," the minister said.
Putting at rest the apprehensions of the members of the house, the minister said the compensation was meant for an interim period and solely for the purpose of determining the date of compensation to be computed.
According to the government, there could be situations resulting in prolonged litigations and if the apex court quashes the notice of acquisition, there might be astronomical hike in compensation amount on account of market value appreciation.
Seen in this light, the bill seeks to amend a section of the Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act to "enable the central government to re-issue the notice of acquisition to the owner or such other person interested in the property, for the purpose of giving an opportunity of being heard".
Puri also made it clear that the government had no intention to open up those cases where the compensation has already been provided.
Participating in the debate, CPI(M) leader Mohammad Salim said the government was trying to bring in "piecemeal" legislations to acquire land at a time when the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was pending with the joint parliamentary committee.
BJP MP Gopal Shetty was critical of the defence officials for acquisition of civilian land unnecessarily.
"Sometimes the enemy does not trouble (the civilians) but these (defence) officials do. The Bill will help get justice to those whose land has been taken," he said.
A P Jithender Reddy (TRS) said the Prime Minister has often talked about cooperative federalism and if the land is taken by the Centre for national security, it should also take steps to take the state governments into confidence.
Asserting that the payment should be more generous for the marginalised people, Varaprasad Rao (YSRC) said the government "has a lot of land which was lying waste. Barren land should be put to use, rather than taking away the land of the poor people."