The Karnataka Land Reforms Act came into effect in 1961. The sole objective of implementing the act was to socialize uniformity in the purchase and ownership of agricultural land. The Act also defined the norms and regulations to be followed for conferring ownership on the tenants of the land, the threshold or ceiling on the landholdings, and the endowment of occupancy rights.
Salient Features Of The Karnataka Land Reforms Act
The salient features of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act, before the amendment, were:
- Section 63 of the Act focused on the ceiling imposed on landholding
- Section 79A of the Act imposed restrictions prohibiting non-agriculturists from the acquisition of land. Firms and individuals from a non-agricultural or non-farming background, earning income more than 25 lakhs in INR, are not allowed to purchase any agricultural land in Karnataka
- Section 79B of the Act stated persons or firms related to farming or agriculturists can purchase, hold and own agricultural lands
- Section 79C of the Act defined the penalty to be imposed for falsely claiming ownership of agricultural land. Violating Sections 79A and 79B allowed the revenue department to investigate and impose actions
- Section 80 of the Act barred the transfer of land to non-agriculturists
- Similar restrictions were imposed on leasing and mortgage of agricultural land
Further to this, the Karnataka Land Reforms Act has undergone an amendment in 2020.
The Key Amendments To The Karnataka Land Reforms Act In 2020
Let us now discuss the key amendments to the Act, that has facilitated the removal of certain restrictions on purchasing and owning agricultural land
- Amendment To Section 63 Of The Act
The ceiling on holding and acquisition of agricultural land has been increased from 10 units to 20 units. This threshold is applicable for a person who is not a family member or who does not have a family or for families with 4 members. For a family with more than 5 members, the ceiling has an additional 4 units allotted for each member, but not to exceed 40 units. 1 unit of land is equivalent to 5.4 acres.
- Sections 79A, 79B, And 79C Of The Act Repealed
The repealing of the sections is the most significant amendment of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act. The restrictions of acquiring and owning agricultural lands specifically by firms or individuals related to farming have been lifted off. Hence non-agriculturists with an income of more than INR 25 lakhs can now buy and own agricultural land in Karnataka.
- Amendment Of Sections 80 And 81 Of The Act
The restriction on the sale of agricultural land to non-agriculturists or firms and individuals not related to farming has been removed. Certain restrictions are, however, still applicable on the transfer of specific categories of agricultural land. Besides, Class A land irrigated, leveraging water from a dam, can only be utilized for farming and agriculture.
- Insertion Of A New Provision In Section 80-A Of The Act
The inclusion of the new provision mentions that the amendments of the Act will not affect individuals belonging to Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, as introduced under the Prohibition of Transfer of Certain Lands or the Karnataka SC/ST Act of 1978. Agricultural land owned by them will continue to remain as farmland.
Key Facts Related To The Amendment Of The Act
The Amendment of the Karnataka Reforms Act was passed on September 28, 2020, through a voice vote in the Karnataka State Assembly. The bill will enable families who are not agriculturists but have an interest in farming, to invest in agricultural land. Furthermore, it has been stated that innovative and modern techniques can be introduced to improve agricultural production. Henceforth it will increase agricultural exports, thus spurring the state’s earnings.
Another remarkable achievement of the amendment is the withdrawal or dismissal of about 13814 pending cases. These cases were lodged for violating Sections 79A and 79B, involving thousands of acres of land almost worth crores of rupees. Earlier the sections befitted the benefits of the farmers while they tried to sell their land.
The state of Karnataka owns almost 98.95 Lakh hectares of cultivable land, which can be used for agriculture and farming. But a greater portion of it was not utilized due to the restrictions imposed in the Land Reforms Act. The amendment has aided in releasing about 40,000 acres of land to their owners; thus, paving the way for more investment in producing crops. This will facilitate greater production of food grains for internal consumption as well as agricultural exports. It will serve two vital purposes. Firstly, it can help meet the ever-increasing demand for food supplies for catering to the demands of the ever-increasing population. Secondly, it will create a positive influence on the state GDP as well as the income from the agricultural sector.