Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Land grabbing prohibited under an ordinance promulgated on May 26 will collapse if not evolved into enactment by the Assembly this session. Therefore, in absence of the Revenue Minister Bijayshree Rautray, the minister of Parliamentary Affairs Bikram Keshari Arukha introduced Orissa Land Gabbing (Prohibition) Bill, 2015 in the Assembly on Wednesday , despite absence of Legislative environment, as both the Treasury and Opposition (Congress) benches were not allowing the Speaker proceed with the scheduled business of the day. The situation was such that the whole day passed away with the House acting only for about 9 minutes. Introduction of the Bill by Sri Arukh was the last transaction of the day lost to repeated adjournments.
The Bill is addressed to provide for penal prosecution against encroachment of government or public sector land. The concept has its origin in the government’s anxiousness to escape the public wrath generated by exposure of illegal land grabbing by ruling party heavyweights, top bureaucrats and also fellows in judiciary.
Establishment of Special Courts for speedy determination of offense with deterrent punishment to offenders in land grabbing cases is a major object behind the Bill. If enacted, it would make land grabbing punishable with imprisonment for minimum one year which may extend up to seven years with fine up to Rs.20,000/-. Such courts will be deemed as Civil Courts and Courts of Sessions for complete coverage of the offenders.
Being a welfare law, it should have retrospective effect. Unless serious attention is given to its text, it may end up in defeat of the people’s desire to punish and retrieve from whosoever has grabbed public lands in the State, where landless people constitute more then 70% of the population, in the sense of remunerative land-owning.
What treat the Assembly would give the Bill depends on legislative environment which is conspicuous by its absence since commencement of the session.