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Govt to repromulgate Land Acquisition Ordinance before April 5

After much deliberation on the future course of action on the controversial Land Bill by PM Modi and his cabinet colleagues, the CCPA met on Friday.
After much deliberation on the future course of action on the controversial Land Bill by PM Modi and his cabinet colleagues, the CCPA met on Friday.
NEW DELHI: The government is set to promulgate a fresh Land Acquisition Ordinance before the present ordinance lapses on April 5 with the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs taking a decision to recommend to President Pranab Mukherjee that the Rajya Sabha be prorogued.

After much deliberation on the future course of action on the controversial Land Acqusition Bill by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet colleagues, the CCPA met here on Friday to take a formal decision.

“The Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs today met and has decided to recommend prorogation of the Rajya Sabha with immediate effect,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu told reporters after the meeting.

To meet the constitutional necessity, the government has recommended to the President that the Rajya Sabha be prorogued. An ordinance can be promulgated only when at least one of the two Houses of Parliament is not is session. The Lok Sabha is in ‘recess’ and it will continue the budget session from April 20.

Nine Amendments Likely to be Incorporated

The Rajya Sabha will have to be reconvened then. Home Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi were also present in the meeting while Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had given his prior assent to the decision.

The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was passed by the Lok Sabha on March 10 and is now with the Rajya Sabha. With 14 Opposition parties, led by Congress and the Left, opposing the proposed law in the Rajya Sabha where NDA is in a minority, the government did not bring it up for discussion and passage before Parliament went into a recess on March 20.

Sources said the fresh Ordinance would be different from the present one as it would incorporate the nine amendments that were made to the Bill during passage in the Lok Sabha.

The CCPA decision will now be conveyed to the President and the Secretary General of the Rajya Sabha. Cabinet will then take a call on promulgating the Ordinance before April 5. Once this is done, the CCPA is likely to recommend to the President the date for re-convening the Rajya Sabha.

The process of proroguing the Rajya Sabha had to be undertaken as Article 123 of the Constitution states that an Ordinance can only be promulgated when either of the Houses in not in session.

The new ordinance is likely to get the President's nod without a hitch, sources said. Naidu had met Mukherjee on Thursday to discuss the issue.

Keen that the crucial Land Bill is passed, the government has indicated that it is ready to make suitable amendments. The prime minister has asked his council of ministers and party leaders to spread the word across the country that the Land Bill is not antifarmer.

In his “Mann Ki Baat” on radio, Modi alleged that a lot of falsehood about the Bill are being propagated by the opposition. But the opposition has stood its ground and continues to slam the government on the Bill.

Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari had written to Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi and social activist Anna Hazare asking them to come forward for a debate on the Land Bill. In a scathing reply, Gandhi said on Friday that the NDA government is “blatantly anti-farmer and anti-poor” and urged it to stop “unabashed display of half-truths”.

“I urge you to rise above the realm of narrow partisan politics and bring back the 2013 law in totality... Your proposed legislation makes a mockery of your claim that you stand for the interest of farmers”. “Proposition of a post-facto debate after unilateral imposition of anti-farmer law is mockery of building partisan consesus,” she added.

Removal of consent clause and Social Impact Assessment clauses in the amendment Bill is the bone of contention. Naidu and rural development minister Chaudhary Birendra Singh have indicated the government is ready to discuss the clause.

Government sources said efforts are also being made to get opposition—other than the Congress and the Left—to change their views and support the Bill.
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