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What are the Main Features of the Urban Land Ceiling in West Bengal and Kolkata

Introduction:

We will discuss the Urban Land Ceiling in West Bengal and Kolkata along with case laws and other information relating to this topic. The meaning of land ceiling is the process to fix land holdings that an individual can own. This is an important topic which needs to be discussed because many people from the ancient times till now facing problems in landholdings and these lands are unequally distributed in the society. There are many people in the society who hold a large part of the land in acres in society. The system of land distribution plays a crucial role in our country because most of the land is vested in the hands of the rich people or it is vested in the hands of the rich farmers. Our government had amended an Act called “Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act” in the year 1976 to deal with the Urban Lands, prohibit the excess land in the hands of the few people and also to deal with other matters of the Urban Lands. This act was afterwards repealed in the year 1999 by the Government of India and it came to be known as “Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Repeal Act”. This act was adopted by all the states of our country but it was not adopted by our State that is West Bengal. The Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act of 1976 provides equal distribution of land and it also speaks about the progression of the country in a different aspect. So, our state did not adopt the “Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Repeal Act, 1999. There are other issues why West Bengal did not adopt this act. Perhaps, if we adopt the Repealed Act, 1999 then it will again play a crucial role in the state in respect of the distribution of land and it will also raise many problems in the urban areas and it will exploit the present status or situation of the Urban Lands. West Bengal follows ‘Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976 till now to prevent different disputes arising related to Urban Lands. Some of the major points of the “Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976 are discussed below which are taken from the act to make you understand the importance of urban land ceiling in West Bengal.

  1. Section 1 sub-section 2 of the Act, 1976 says that it will apply to Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal and to all the Union territories and it will apply to other states who adopt this Act. But now, it is seen that only West Bengal follows this act and other states follow the Repealed Act of 1999.
  2. Section 2 sub-section (f) defines family. Here, it says that family means an individual, the wife or husband of that individual and the minor children of this couple who is not married that is to say that the person is below 18 years of age.
  3. Section 2 sub-section (i) speaks about the person. Here, person means an individual, a family, a company or firm or an association or body of individuals.
  4. Section 2 sub-section (n) defines urban agglomeration. In simple words, Urban Agglomeration means an extension of urban lands forming towns and adjoining outgrowths.
  5. Section 2 sub-section (o) defines the terms of Urban Land. It says that urban land means any land which is located within the limits of Urban Agglomeration or referred in the master plan or if there is no master plan then within Urban Agglomeration or in the local limits of the municipality, a notified area committee and so on.
  6. Section 2 sub-section (q) defines vacant land.
  7. Section 4 defines the ceiling limit. It says that the ceiling limit should be as follows – a) Vacant land located in the urban Agglomeration and comes under the category A as specified in schedule I that is 5 hundred sq metres.

b) Vacant land located in the urban Agglomeration and comes under category B as specified in schedule I that is 1000 sq metres.

c) Vacant land located in the urban Agglomeration and comes under the category C as specified in schedule I that is 1500 sq metres.

d) Vacant land located in the urban Agglomeration and comes under the category D as specified in schedule I that is 2000 sq metres and so on.

The above-mentioned sections are applicable in West Bengal since the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976 is still prevailing in our state to handle the urban lands.

Some features of the Urban Land (Ceiling & Regulation) Act, 1976:

 1) Its object is the vesting of ceiling excess lands in urban areas and distribution of it for the public interest.

2) Statutory Exemption: – Lands which are held by the Government of India, State Government, and Welfare Organization are all exempted from ceiling limit.

 3) The government can distribute lands to an individual or organization such as educational, social, etc for the public interest.

It is well said that if any person has land more than its ceiling limit then he or she should take permission from the state government or competent authority for the conversion of the excess land that they enjoy. It is also mentioned that 17.5 acres of land can be used as agricultural land by the private individual or private ownership in the state for irrigated areas and areas with rainfed is fixed at 24.5 acres and in urban areas 7.5 cottahs or 1/8 of an acre is fixed for private ownership under the West Bengal Land Reforms Act.

Benefits or Advantages of Urban Land Ceiling:

  1. Land ceiling tries to erase inequality in respect of ownership of land and also decreases inequality of income.
  2. It prevents the concentration of land in the hands of a few people.
  3. It provides self- employment to the landless people who are considered as agricultural labourers.
  4. Now, the lands which are distributed are under cultivation also. So, these lands provide food security to them.
  5. People who had no lands, they can lead to peace and a good life now.

Many people of our state want the state government to repeal this act and adopt the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Repealed Act, 1999 because they can’t buy or purchase lands in urban areas since the ceiling limit does not permit them to purchase the land above the ceiling limits which is mentioned in the Act, 1976 and according to our view, these people think that there can’t be development without their assistance or without their projects which creates employment and other facilities to the people through their companies or institutions.

Difference between “Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976 and “Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Repeal Act, 1999 –

SL.No.Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Repeal Act, 1999
1.It applies to the whole of the states of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal and to all Union Territories and it will also apply to the states who adopt this act.It will apply to the whole of the states of Punjab and Haryana and to all the Union Territories and it will also apply to the states who adopt this act.
2.It contains no abatement of legal proceedings.It says that all proceedings related to any order made under the act of 1976 which is pending before any court or tribunal shall abate (Section 4) except sections 11, 12, 13 and 14.
3.It says that mere vesting of land would not confer any right on the state government to have de facto possession. The state has to establish two conditions for this. 1) Voluntary surrender and peaceful delivery of land and possession 2)forceful dispossessionIt says that if the state fails to establish these conditions then the owner can claim benefit under section 3 of the Repeal Act, 1999.
4.This act did not help to increase real estate prices in urban areas.It helped in increase of real estate prices in urban areas.
5.It blocked development in some sectors.The acquired lands in urban areas were not available to the private sectors for development. But this act helped in for development.
7.It never helped in acquiring large urban lands.It helped in acquiring large urban land holdings to use it for various purposes.
8.It came into force to distribute urban lands equally to the people and for other purposes.It came into force to because to free urban lands that has been locked up for development.

Case Analysis:

Ca Block Citizens Association & … vs State Of West Bengal & Ors on 12 April 2010Calcutta High Court (Appellate Side)

In the above case, it is said that a person cannot possessthe land which is more than 500 sq metres in urban conglomeration under the provisions of the Act, 1976 and it is also mentioned that our state government has not adopted the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Repealed Act, 1999 and no exemption is given to the respondent under section 20 of the Act, 1976. This case says that the respondent had landed more than the ceiling limits which amounts to 4000 sq metres. The court here, says that since there is the absence of Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Repealed Act, 1999, so the Act of 1976 will continue to apply to the lands in Kolkata Urban Agglomeration.

Biswanath Banerjee vs The State Of West Bengal & Ors on 20 June 2017Calcutta High Court (Appellate Side)

Here, in this case, the petitioner claimed that he is the owner of the land in question and the state has initiated a proceeding against him under the West Bengal Land Development and Planning Act, 1948 and the state took possession for the rehabilitation of the refugees. So, it is seen that the state has no interest in this land. The petitioner challenged the proceeding initiated against him and the court declared the title of the land and said to recover a portion of the land to the petitioner but the petitioner filed a return under section 6 of the Act, 1976 by mistake and a proceeding has been initiated against him then the petitioner appealed against the decision and prayed for quashing the petition and the court said that since the return was filed by mistake so the petitioner can approach the appellate authority for remedy.

K.C.Das  PVT. LTD Vs State of West Bengal:

In this case, it is said that the petitioner purchased a land which had tank and brick building privy. But afterwards, he was served with a notification and draft statement that he holds excess land that is vacant land and the authority mentioned that the tank is also considered as vacant land then the petitioner challenged the order and prayed for exemption. The exemption was passed but it was withdrawn since there was encroacher in the petitioner’s company. There was vast argument related to this topic. The petitioner prayed for exemption again but again it was dismissed. It was also mentioned in this case that the tank is not a vacant land and it does not fall under the category of vacant land as specified in the act of 1976. It is also mentioned that after the argument the act of 1976 should be repealed as mentioned by the advocate of the petitioner. The KMC building rules say that building cover should not exceed more than 1/3 and KMC building rules 1990 says that maximum ground coverage of a building should be 500 sq. metres or more in case of any residential building. It is also mentioned that it is same in the KMC building rules 2009.

Conclusion:

This article gives full knowledge of Urban Land Ceiling along with case laws and other information. Nowadays, we find that many people criticise the state government of West Bengal because our state has not adopted the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Repealed Act, 1999 and the Act we have today put a bar to the people to buy excess land. So, after reading this article we can understand the importance of this act and we will also know why we need this act in our state.

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