Shamlat land: Hooda demands special session to bring law ‘favouring farmers’

Congress senior leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda Tuesday demanded a special session of the Haryana Assembly to discuss the issue of shamlat land and bring a legislation in favour of the farmers who had been demanding ownership rights.

“Since the Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year, the Congress has been demanding amendments to the Land Act to protect the rights of farmers. But despite raising the issue in the assembly earlier, the government did not take it seriously. This is the reason why farmers were forced to protest,” Hooda said. The remarks came a day after a large number of farmers staged a protest along the Panchkula-Chandigarh border demanding ownership rights to those who have been cultivating the shamlat land for the past many decades.

In April, the Supreme Court had held that in respect to the land taken from the proprietors from their permissible ceiling limits under a Punjab law, only the management and control would vest with the panchayat and not the title. Hooda said the state government hastily issued orders to transfer the land in the name of panchayats, creating an atmosphere of chaos in villages.

The Haryana government on August 18 had issued instructions regarding implementation of the Supreme Court’s order pertaining to vesting of shamlat deh (common land) and jumla mustarka malkan in the panchayats or municipal bodies concerned. Jumla mushtarka malkan is a common land created during consolidation after applying a pro-rata cut on the holdings of proprietors under the Consolidation Act.

As per the instructions issued by Haryana government in August: “In those cases where the land originally recorded as shamlat or mustarka malkan had already been partitioned or alienated and third-party rights have been created, the panchayat department and the urban local bodies department may initiate proceedings in accordance with law to get back/restore such lands.” During a meeting with the protesting farmers Monday, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said his government was contemplating to find a solution “within the legal framework” to their demand on common land’s ownership.

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