In the ongoing farmers’ agitation, the NDA government has indicated that it will not accept the demand by farm unions to repeal the three laws at the heart of the protests. During its previous term, the government had withdrawn a contentious Ordinance in view of stiff opposition.
What was that Ordinance?
Within months of coming to power in May 2014, the Narendra Modi government promulgated an Ordinance to amend the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (RFCTLARR) Act, 2013, which was enacted during the UPA regime and came into effect from January 1, 2014. The new law replaced the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, which had been in force for over a century.
On December 31, 2014, exactly one year after the new law had come into effect, the government sought to amend it by promulgating the RFCTLARR (Amendment) Ordinance, 2014.
Through the Ordinance, the government attempted to make several changes in the 2013 Act. These included empowering the government to exempt five categories of projects — national security, rural infrastructure, affordable housing, industrial corridors, and infrastructure and social infrastructure projects — from the requirements of “determination of social impact and public purpose”, and “special provision to safeguard food security”. Besides, it also exempted these categories of projects from the “consent” clause provided under sub-section (2) of section 2 (Fair Compensation) in the new Land Acquisition Act. 📣 Follow Express Explained on Telegram
What was the journey of the Ordinance?
It faced widespread protests. When the government introduced a Bill to replace the Ordinance in Lok Sabha on February 24, 2015, the Opposition attacked it over the proposed changes in the Act. The Bill was passed in Lok Sabha on March 10 that year, but it failed to clear Rajya Sabha. Although a notice for motion for consideration and passing of the Bill was given in Rajya Sabha on March 13, it could not be taken up for consideration as the House was prorogued on March 28.
When the Bill again failed to get approval of Parliament during the first leg of that year’s Budget Session, the government promulgated it again as the RFCTLARR (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015 on April 3.
Meanwhile, the Opposition continued its protests outside and inside Parliament. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi attacked the government in Lok Sabha on April 20, 2015. Making an intervention during a discussion on the agrarian situation, he said: “… your government is ignoring the problems of farmers and does not listen to the voice of workers. Your government is the government of industrialists… Your government is a government of big people. Suit-boot ki sarkar hai. We all understand that… On one hand you are weakening farmers and labourers, and when they are able to stand on their feet, you will hit them with the axe of your Ordinance.”
In the second leg of the Budget Session, the Bill was referred to a Joint Parliamentary Committee for examination. On May 30, the government reissued the Ordinance, as the RFCTLARR (Amendment) Second Ordinance, 2015.
How was it eventually withdrawn?
Amid continuing anger against the amendment, Prime Minister Modi announced the decision to withdraw the Ordinance in his Mann Ki Baat programme broadcast on August 31, 2015. “I have always said that the government is open to all views and suggestions on the issue of Land Acquisition Act, on which a debate is going on. I have reiterated again and again that I am open to any suggestion in the interest of the farmers. But today, I want to tell all my farmer brothers and sisters that the request to reform the ‘Land Acquisition Act’ was raised by the states very emphatically… And hence this reformed proposal was introduced,” Modi said.
“But I saw how the farmers were being misled and a fear psychosis created. My dear farmers, you should not be misled and definitely never be scared. And I do not wish to give anyone the opportunity to mislead you and scare you. For me, every single voice in the nation is important but most important to me is the voice of the farmer. We had issued an ordinance. Tomorrow, on August 31st the deadline for this ordinance ends. I have decided that let this ordinance be lapsed,” he said.
The Joint Committee of Parliament, headed by BJP member S S Ahluwalia, held several meetings to discuss the amendment Bill. Eventually, the Bill lapsed with the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha.
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