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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Haryana’s move to allow partition of land owned by co-sharers hits a road block

It was in 2013, when IAS officer Ashok Khemka had pointed out that various prime chunks of such land in Gurgaon and Faridabad were usurped by the “powerful business-politico-bureaucratic-police lobby” who had no interest in agriculture or cultivation activities.

Written by Varinder Bhatia | Chandigarh | January 6, 2021 12:09:31 pm
Ashok Khemka, Punjab news, Punjab land revenue act, land partition allowed by Haryana, Ashok Khemka on Punjab land revenue act, Haryana news, Indian ExpressHaryana Governor S N Arya has withheld his assent on the Bill, as of now. (File Photo)

Haryana government’s move to amend the Punjab Land Revenue Act allowing partition of land owned by co-sharers has hit a roadblock as Haryana Governor S N Arya has withheld his assent on the Bill, as of now.

The Governor, it is learnt, has sought comments from the state government on the issues flagged by Haryana’s senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka who had cited apprehensions that the Punjab Land Revenue (Haryana Amendment) Bill passed by the Vidhan Sabha would rather benefit ‘land sharks’ more than the common man.

The Indian Express has learnt that the Governor had, last month, sent Khemka’s letter to the state government asking the government to explain its side on the apprehensions raised by Khemka. The government was yet to send its comments.

A senior Haryana government officer told The Indian Express that Governor seeking comments from the government, even after Vidhan Sabha passed a Bill, was a “rare development”.

It was on November 6 when the Vidhan Sabha passed this Bill.

CM Manohar Lal Khattar had said, “Vidhan Sabha passed this Bill with a view to curb the partition of shares on the land related litigations. In the revenue records, the partition of land where co-sharers are there remains pending for years. People used to face lots of difficulties. We have now introduced a provision that all the co-sharers shall be given the notice to reply within 30 days. It will not be applicable to blood-relations.

Khattar further said, “Except for the blood relations, rest all co-sharers shall be given a six month time to respond for their partition of share. One extension of another six months shall be given. If it is not done in one year, then the Revenue Department will do it automatically within next three months. That will reduce litigation. There are 48 lakh such co-sharers in Haryana, especially for agriculture land.”

Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress government in its second term in Haryana too had attempted a similar thing.

It was in 2013, when Ashok Khemka had pointed out that various prime chunks of such land in Gurgaon and Faridabad were usurped by the “powerful business-politico-bureaucratic-police lobby” who had no interest in agriculture or cultivation activities.

While the Congress government had tried to use Consolidation Act as a tool for the partition of prime chunks of such land including forest land, the BJP-JJP government led by Manohar Lal Khattar has now attempted the similar move by introducing an amendment under the Punjab Land Revenue Act.

Khemka, in his letter to the Governor last month, has pointed out that “in case of partition of the land owned by co-sharers, while the amendment puts the primary onus on the shareholder seeking partition to inform other co-sharers, it is likely to raise several practical issues giving an advantage to the co-sharer living in the village over those who are living at distant places away from the land in question”.

Khemka also pointed out that in several cases, the revenue records do not contain addresses of co-sharers.

“The revenue officer in partition proceedings under Section 111-A (the new Section added in the Amendment bill) will not be able to serve personal notice upon those co-sharers who do not reside in the village as per mode of service prescribed in the Act. The only mode of service of notice would be by pasting the notice on some conspicuous place where the land is situated or by proclamation. In the partition proceedings under Section 111-A, the co-sharers in possession or residing in village will, therefore, derive an unfair advantage over other co-sharers who do not,” the letter said.

It added: “The amendment will benefit powerful land sharks in possession of common lands to the detriment of the weak co-sharers, the larger society and the environment,” Khemka has written adding that the amendment will severely “affect the forests and hilly lands in Aravallis and other eco-fragile regions and shamlat lands.”

Another issue pertains to small fragmentation. “If joint holdings are compulsorily partitioned into separate shares for each co-sharer, then the size of some separate shares may be very small and agriculturally unviable. The size could be as small as a few marlas. The statutory fragmentation will lead to overall waste due to the need to provide common rasta (road) and water channels to each of the separate shares carved out in the partition. The fragmentation arising due to the present amendment is against the object of the Consolidation Act of 1948,” Khemka had written.

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