He said only a citizen of India, born in or domiciled in the concerned urban area would be eligible for getting land under the discretionary allotment power of the government. “The qualification of eligible persons and categories of eligible persons for land allotments must be clearly and exhaustively spelt out in the statute itself, without leaving room for the executive to add categories by way of notification,” Venugopal said.
Discretionary quotas should be used to help the neglected and the deprived. Keeping politicians and judges of the higher judiciary out of the pool will lead to a more just and democratic distribution of land. This is a welcome proposal.
However, he suggested continuance of the discretionary land allotment policy for the needy and poor. “Land could be allotted free of cost to the weaker and deserving sections of the society. Free/subsidised land could be allotted to certain categories, such as ex-servicemen, war widows, disabled persons and such like categories,” the AG suggested.
But for all other categories, the “price of land would have to be charged as per market value and actual cost of construction of the house to be determined by the government concerned, subject to rebate/subsidy/premium as may be considered necessary,” he said.
Suggesting the setting up of a high-powered authority in each district to monitor strict implementation of the guidelines, the AG said wherever it is found that land has been allotted without following the guidelines, the government would resume the land and not pay any compensation to the allottee for the development he/she had carried out there.
Outlining the contours of the separate land allotment law, the AG said, “Land allotment must be done by way of a statutory enactment duly passed by the state legislatures, not by executive policy/guidelines. Amending current land revenue/local authority statutes to include this subject must be avoided in order to avoid making the enactment bulky, complex and confusing.”
“Other aspects such as pricing, plot size etc may be left to be determined by the executive through rules, housing schemes or committee deliberation for each proposed allotment,” he said. A week ago, he had told a bench headed by CJI N V Ramana that a national land allotment policy is urgently needed to cure decades-old practice among state governments to arbitrarily allot prime lands in metros, big cities and urban areas for housing societies floated by these influential groups.
The AG had said, “The task is to ensure how we work for a uniform guidelines regarding distribution of land to influential groups — politicians, bureaucrats, police, journalists and even judges — for housing purposes. The allotment of land to such influential groups had often been arbitrary and subject matter of litigation before the courts as it has been the allegation that the state had arbitrarily allotted prime land to influential groups to curry their favour.”