Prez questioned Govt before signing Ordinance on Land Bill: Sources

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New Delhi, Jan 02: The central government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi could manage to suppress the criticism of the opposition by successfully clearing the land bill through ordinance route with approval of Pranab Mukherjee, but the President had asked the Centre to explain the urgency behind the ordinance.

Sources said that Mukherjee had questioned the government over the hurry in bringing the ordinance on the land bill. It is reported that the President had communicated with the ministers giving his opinion that it would have been better if the government had passed the bill in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

Reports said that three senior ministers - Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda and Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari - placed the government's viewpoint and convinced the President about the need of the ordinance on Land Bill after which he signed on Wednesday.

The three ministers met Mukherjee and explained why the government was in hurry to get the ordinance promulgated to amend the law, rather than waiting for next parliament session.

The ordinance was cleared amending the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.

Article 123 empowers the President to promulgate an ordinance when the Parliament is not in session, but he has to be certain that there are adequate circumstances to warrant urgent legislative action.

However, sources said that there was nothing unusual in the move. The President often asks the government for opinions before he signs. During the UPA regime too, the President often asked to meet ministers. He had even met then Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde for the anti-rape ordinance and had signed the papers only after he was satisfied with it.

This time during the NDA government, the ministers were able to convince the President about the urgency of the ordinance in view of the fact that before January 1, the land law should bring under its purview 13 central legislations, including those relating to defence and national security, to provide higher compensation and rehabilitation and resettlement benefits to farmers whose land is being acquired.

With the promulgation of the ordinance, the R & R (rehabilitation and resettlement) and compensation provisions of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 will be applicable for the 13 existing central laws including the Coal Bearing Areas Acquisition and Development Act, 1957, the National Highways Act, 1956 and the Land Acquisition (Mines) Act, 1885.

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