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‘Punjab Land Revenue Bill a serious threat to ecology, green cover of Haryana’: Tosham Kiran Choudhry

Talking to The Indian Express, Choudhry said, “The forest cover in Haryana is already depleting. That is the reason, it was my duty to raise this issue with the chief minister. I am yet to receive his reply on my letter.”

Written by Varinder Bhatia |
March 12, 2021 9:53:43 am

SENIOR HARYANA Congress leader and MLA from Tosham Kiran Choudhry has written to Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, asking him to withdraw the Punjab Land Revenue (Haryana Amendment) Bill and refer it to a standing committee of the state Legislative Assembly to revisit and re-examine its provisions.

The Bill that was passed on November 6, 2020, by Vidhan Sabha was sent to Haryana Governor S N Arya for his assent. However, the Governor has yetnot given his assent to the Bill and sent it back to the state government for comments after IAS officer Ashok Khemka wrote to the Governor citing apprehensions that the Bill “would rather benefit land sharks more than the common man”.

Now Kiran Choudhry too has written to Khattar on similar lines. The letter says, “The assent to this Bill by the Hon’ble Governor of Haryana under Article 200 of the Constitution of India is still awaited. As soon as this Bill was passed by the Haryana Legislative Assembly, a section of print media started carrying stories on the likely adverse effects of the new legislation. It was apprehended by the section of media that the proposed legislation may help the land sharks, colonisers and persons indulging in unauthorised development on forest lands, thus imperiling already threatened the green vegetative cover and biodiversity in the state”.

Talking to The Indian Express, Choudhry said, “The forest cover in Haryana is already depleting. That is the reason, it was my duty to raise this issue with the chief minister. I am yet to receive his reply on my letter.”

Commenting on the manner in which the Bill was tabled and subsequently passed by voice voting in the Vidhan Sabha, Choudhry wrote, “You will agree that this Bill was piloted in the state Assembly at the peak of the pandemic – so much so that a week long Assembly session had to be curtailed and bifurcated into two shorter sessions – as many legislators had tested positive. Even these sessions of short durations were inundated with legislative proposals/ bills having complex provisions and far reaching implications, giving the individual legislators hardly any time to study, reflect or exercise due diligence. At the time of passing this Bill also, I had expressed strong reservation against the Bill. However, the same was passed by a voice vote.”

Elaborating the objectionable provisions in the Bill, Choudhry mentioned, “The new legislation will pave the way for the revenue officer to do away with personal service on some of the co-sharers as envisaged under the Punjab Land Revenue Act, 1887. This militate against the principle of natural justice of giving personal notice to every adversely affected individual by such proceedings. Second, the partition under new legislation may lead to parceling out of lands into agriculturally unviable units. Third, the common lands falling in the category of exception to the clause 2(g) of the Punjab Village Common Land Regulation Act, 1961 will be liable to be partitioned by the Revenue officer as a result of this new legislation.”

She further said, “This may have serious implications on forest lands in the Aravallis and other Shamlat lands in the river basins of the State. The provisions of this Bill propose to make the order of the collector after first appeal as final, thus doing away with the appellate/revisionary jurisdiction of the revenue courts in government at the financial commissioner level. This could be highly problematic as right to second appeal/revision in every case has been enshrined in CPC and our legal system. In view of this situation, enacting the proposed legislation could be problematic and may have serious implications on the already denuded fragile ecology and green cover in the state of Haryana.”

In her letter, Choudhry had also asked, “I would request you to use your good offices to apprise me of the latest status regarding reservations expressed by the Hon’ble Governor against this Bill and the stance taken by the government/ department thereto.”

Referring to the Bill, CM Manohar Lal Khattar had then 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 had added, “Except for 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.”

However, Khemka in his letter to the Governor had mentioned that “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 had also said, “the amendment will severely affect the forests and hilly lands in Aravallis and other eco-fragile regions and shamlat lands.”

 

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