Modi govt unlikely to bring land bill in monsoon session

Brand-new DELHI: With consensus eluding it, the land bill is unlikely to be presented in Parliament during the monsoon session beginning Tuesday and the related ordinance would be promulgated for an unprecedented fourth time, government sources said.

“The bill is unlikely to be brought before Parliament in the monsoon session due to lack of consensus. Hence the only likely probability is its repromulgation,” sources said.

The Joint Committee of Parliament headed by BJP MP SS Ahluwalia, which is looking into the contentious legislation, meanwhile plans to seek a two-week extension till August 3 to finalize its report.

Indications are that the panel is unlikely to come out with its report during the Monsoon Session and could seek further extension, making it necessary for the government to re-promulgate the ordinance once again. The ordinance was promulgated for the third time on May 31.

Sources said further extensions may also be sought as the government does not want to bring the bill before Parliament until after the Bihar Assembly poll in September-October.

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Sources in the government see nothing unusual in the re-promulgation of the land ordinance. They said at least 15 ordinances have been promulgated twice or more.

An ordinance, which has actually a life span of six months otherwise, has actually to be re-promulgated if it does not get the endorsement of Parliament within six weeks of the start of a session. Monsoon Session starts on July 21 and ends on August 13.

The government has actually so far maintained that re-promulgation was necessary for maintaining its continuity and providing a framework to compensate people whose land is acquired. Congress, which has actually been opposing the Brand-new land bill brought by the Narendra Modi government, had fiercely attacked it when the ordinance was re-promulgated on May 31.

Sources in the government, however, say that at least six ordinances have been promulgated thrice during various governments including UPA-II.

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UPA II had promulgated two ordinances thrice—the ‘Re-adjustment of Representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies Ordinance, 2013’ between January 30, 2013 and Septmeber 27, 2013, and ‘The Securities Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013’ between July 18, 2013 and March 28, 2014 in the 15th Lok Sabha.

‘The Buidling and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Condition of Service), 1996’ was promulgated twice by the Congress government led by PV Narsimha Rao and repromulgated again by United Front Government headed by H D Deve Gowda.

The same happened with the Industrial Disputes (Amendment) Ordinance, 1996, the Arbitration and Conciliation Ordinance, 1996 and The Depository Ordinance, 1996 which were promulgated twice by the Rao government and once more by the Deve Gowda dispensation, which succeeded him.

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Sources in the government indicate there is little possibility of the government, which has actually just completed the first year of its five-year term, opting for the joint session route to pass the bill and invite further criticism for pushing the law ‘through force’.

The Joint Committee of Parliament, which is struggling to arrive at some sort of consensus on the vexed land issue, had earlier decided to seek one week’s extension till July 28. However, as it was not found sufficient, it decided to have its tenure extended further till August 3.

Originally the panel had to submit its report on the first day of the Monsoon session beginning July 21.

The panel will have to take the nod of Parliament for the extension when the session begins. The panel has actually decided to seek a two-week extension in one go now, the sources said.

Out of 672 representations that the committee received, 670 have opposed the amendments being brought by the NDA government in the land bill, particularly dropping the consent clause and social impact survey. So far, 52 representatives have also appeared before the committee.
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