Process of Land Acquisition in India

Introduction

In India, stalled developments are a major challenge for the real estate sector. Numerous factors, including land conflicts, have contributed to the stalling of thousands of infrastructure investment projects, but their importance has been grossly underrated. A real estate project’s initial stage is land acquisition, and when the process of confirming the title and acquiring the land is not given adequate consideration, many of these projects become stopped and delayed owing to conflicts regarding the aforementioned land. Anytime land needs to be acquired, due diligence on the transaction should be carried out to determine the land’s ownership and title. Following this, the prescribed procedure for land purchase can be started.

Laws in the US and under English Law

The idea is referred to as the Law of Compulsory Purchase in English law and as the Power of Eminent Domain in US law. This legislation gives the state the authority to require the owner of the property to turn it over to the state or any agency or body authorized by the state because it is necessary for the use of the state or such an agency or entity of the state (as an exception to the general rule). The idea that guides such behavior and provides the justification for such behavior is known as utilitarianism, which places emphasis on the idea that the greater good of the community comes before the individual’s right to own property.

The legal maxim salus propuli est suprema lex, which literally means that the welfare of the people comes first in law, can be used to summarise the fundamental premise of land acquisition, often known as the power of eminent domain or the Law of Compulsory Acquisition. Expropriation of private property rights is involved in the compulsory acquisition of property, which limits the freedom of private owners to dispose of their property as they like.

Defining Land Acquisition

The practice of land acquisition allows the government (federal or state) to purchase private property for a variety of uses. In exchange, the government gives the landowner fair compensation and would be in charge of the affected landowners’ rehabilitation and relocation.

Methods of Land Acquisitions

Three methods are typically used to acquire land:

1. Acquisition in accordance with the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, and Resettlement Act, 2013

2. Confidential talks with the landowners.

3. Acquiring through additional Acts

Acquisition in accordance with the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, and Resettlement Act, 2013

Following the repeal of the Land Acquisition Act of 1894, the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, and Resettlement Act of 2013 (the “LARR Act”) took effect. In accordance with this Act, the District Collector assists the acquisition of land when it is done for public use. After adhering to the rules set forth in this Act, the Developer may purchase land through this Act.

The following describes how land is acquired under the 2013 Act:

The project proponent (developer) is required to create a Social Impact Assessment study (SIA). It must be carried out in consultation with the relevant Panchayat, municipality, or Municipal Corporation in accordance with Section 5 outlining:

  1. Whether the purchase will advance the public interest,
  2. The anticipated number of affected families,
  3. the potential number of households that would need to relocate,
  4. Other common properties in the neighborhood that could be impacted
  5. Whether the administration has considered any other potential locations,
  6. The project’s overall cost and return on investment.

An expert group reviews the social impact assessment (SIA) report and, within two months, recommends whether the project should move forward or be shelved, along with their reasoning. The state government then reviews and approves requests for land acquisition and the social impact assessment report to ascertain whether the land is required for any public use.

Every time a piece of land is needed or likely to be needed for a public purpose after receiving approval, a public notice stating the land’s specifics must be published in the official gazette and two daily local newspapers in that area. The initial acquisition notice is provided here. The general public is given 60 days to voice their grievances to the collector. A synopsis of the rehabilitation and resettlement plan is included in the publication of the declaration of the acquisition. Persons having an interest are given final notice that they have 60 days to present the Collector with any claims they may have for compensations, rehabilitation, or resettlement related to the acquisition.

Confidential talks with the landowners

The LARR Act of 2013 permits direct private discussions with landowners for the purpose of purchasing land. These can be used if a small area of land is accidentally left after the first acquisition or if the land can be bought without following the drawn-out procedure required by the LARR Act, 2013. The district collector must be a member of the negotiation committee that the state government forms. The award and multiplier are in accordance with state government regulations.

An example of how this was done is when the Maharashtra government chose to negotiate the purchase of land for new non-irrigation projects in 2015 and formed a 7-member committee under the direction of the district collector to determine the amount of compensation to be paid to the landowner.

Following are the steps:

  1. The State Government appoints a committee for negotiations.
  2. With the cooperation of all involved departments and landowners, the requirements are jointly inspected.
  3. To fix land rates, negotiations with landowners are conducted.
  4. Committee recommendations that have been accepted by the state government
  5. The Collector makes an award, money is paid, and ownership of the land is given.

Acquiring through additional Acts

Acts like the National Highways Act of 1956 and the Railways Act of 1989 are exempt from the LARR Act’s 2013 regulations. Although the compensation, rehabilitation, and resettlement provisions of these Acts must be in accordance with the provisions under the LARR Act of 2013, the acquisition under these Acts may be carried out in accordance with the terms in the relevant Acts.

Conclusion

Any errors made during the title verification or acquisition procedure could keep the land needed for the project involved in litigation and disputes, causing a delay in its completion and significant financial losses. In order to ensure that the project can begin without delay and that all other approvals and clearances can be obtained, it is crucial to follow the above-mentioned steps for verifying the land title and for the subsequent acquisition (while taking into account any differences that may need to be taken into account due to different rules in different states).

References

Laws in the US and under English Law https://www.legalserviceindia.com/article/l257-Process-of-Land-Acquisition.html

Acquisition in accordance with the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, and Resettlement Act, 2013 https://prsindia.org/billtrack/the-right-to-fair-compensation-and-transparency-in-land-acquisition-rehabilitation-and-resettlement-bill-2013

Acquisition in accordance with the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, and Resettlement Act, 2013 https://housing.com/news/all-about-the-land-acquisition-act/

Confidential talks with the landowners and Acquiring through additional Acts https://blog.ipleaders.in/process-land-title-verification-acquisition/#:~:text=Land%20acquisition%20is%20normally%20done,Acquisition%20through%20other%20Acts.

Example of confidential talks with the landowners https://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/maharashtra-govt-decides-to-acquire-land-through-negotiations-115051300027_1.html

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