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Goa Restriction on Transfer of Agricultural Land Bill 2023

Published: 13th Apr, 2023

Context

The Goa Legislative Assembly has passed the Goa Restriction on Transfer of Agricultural Land Bill 2023 amid the oppositions.

Provisions of the bill:

  • The Bill seeks to impose restrictions on the transfer (sale) of agricultural lands in Goa to non-agriculturalists.
  • Farmers cannot sell agricultural land to non-agriculralist tor concerned grants the permission.
  • The permission may be granted in special circumstances, such as when an industrial or a commercial undertaking needs land for agriculture in connection with its operations.
  • The land can also be transferred if it is required by a cooperative farming society.
  • If a non-agriculturist intends to take up agriculture and is capable of cultivating the land personally, the collector may consider permitting the transfer.
  • If a person intending to take up agriculture acquires the land, he or she will have to sustain farming.
  • The land shall revert to the government three years from the date of abandonment or discontinuation of the farming activity.

Significance

  • The bill would save the state’s paddy fields from being taken over by buyers for non-agriculture purposes.
  • After the Goa Agricultural Tenancy Act, this is the second such Bill in the last 60 years enacted by the state to safeguard the paddy fields.
  • It is government to safeguard the rights of the farmers and prevent the diversion of land.

Why is the Bill being opposed?

  • Diversion of agricultural land: The provisions empowering Collectors to make exceptions would pave the way for large-scale diversion of agricultural land, encouraging industrialists from outside the state to purchase swathes of agricultural land in Goa.
  • Excessive Powers to Bureaucracy: The very fact that the Collector is given powers to transfer land to non-agriculturists like industrialists or commercial undertakings gives scope for blatant misuse of agricultural land.
  • Farmers losing Protection: Farmers argued that it revokes protections that ensured that agricultural land remained with local farmers and tenants.

Land/Property Rights and related laws in India:

  • Right to Property:
  • ‘Right to private property was previously a fundamental right’ under Article 31 of the Constitution.
  • Property ceased to be a fundamental right with the 44th Constitution Amendment in 1978.
  • Nevertheless, Article 300A required the state to follow due procedure and authority of law to deprive a person of his or her private property.

The right to property is now considered to be not only a constitutional or statutory right, but also a human right.

  •  List II: State List of the 7th schedule of the Indian constitution:
  • The State List of the seventh schedule of the Indian Constitution consists of subjects on which only the respective State Legislature has the power to make laws.
  • Originally, the State list consisted of 66 subjects. However, in the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1976, five issues were transferred from the State list to the Concurrent list.

Land is a state subject and it is the responsibility of the concerned state/UT to look after matters related to land.

  • They are, Education, Weights and measurements, Forests, Administration of justice, Protection of wild animals and birds.
  • At present, there are only 61 subjects on the State list. Matters related to regional and local importance are added to the State list.
  • Important subject matters listed under the State list:
  • Public order, excluding the use of any naval, military, or air force or any other armed force of the Union or of any other force subject to the control of the Union.
  • Police, including the railway and village police
  • Public health and sanitation; hospitals and dispensaries.
  • Relief of disabled people and unemployable
  • Libraries, museums, and other similar institutions are controlled or financed by the State.
  • Agriculture
  • Officers and servants of the respective High Court
  • Local government
  • Fisheries
  • Elections of State Legislature
  • The public debt of the State
  • Taxes on agricultural income
  • Taxes on lands and buildings
  • Tolls
  • Jurisdiction and powers of all courts in the respective state

Verifying, please be patient.

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