The Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976

The Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976 (Act no. 33 of 1976) being the Central Governments legislation was enacted by the Parliament of India with the view to make provisions as to imposition of a ceiling on vacant land in urban agglomerations, also to acquiring such land in excess of the ceiling limit, for regulating the construction of buildings thereon. The Act make further provisions for preventing the concentration of urban land in the hands of a few persons and speculation and profiteering therein, as such the Act sought to provide for equitable distribution of land in urban agglomerations in common good. The subject matter of this legislation is ‘Land’ and the same comes under the authority of State legislature, however, with the view to ensure the uniformity in approach, the Government of India has took initiative and certain states passed resolutions under Article 252(1) of the Constitution of India, wherein the Parliament was empowered to enact this Act. So far as the applicability of this legislation is concerned, the Act under its first section says that the States of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal and all the Union territories are subjected to this Act and other States can also adopt this Act by passing resolutions as aforesaid.

The provisions of section 3 of the Act provides that in respect of the territories concerned under this Act for which the ceiling limit is provided, no persons should be entitled to hold any vacant land in excess of that ceiling limit. Section 4 deals with such ceiling limit for every person. Further, the section 5 of the Act says that the transferred vacant land either by way of sale, mortgage, gift, etc. by the persons in the State to which this Act is applicable should also be considered while calculating the extend of vacant land held by him. And as per section 6, all persons holding such excess vacant land should file a statement within the prescribed period before the Competent authority. Such statement should specify the location, extent, value, etc. of such vacant land and also land over which any building is erected. As per section 8 of the Act, the Competent authority is required to prepare a draft statement in respect of such persons, based on the Statements filed by them. And all such draft statements are required to serve upon the person along with notice wherein any objection thereto should be invited and the period for making of such objection is thirty days. And such Objections to be dealt with by the Competent authority and pass appropriate orders thereon. As such, the Competent authority is required to proceed for making final Statement wherein the determined vacant land held by the person concerned in excess of the ceiling limit should be stated. After complying all such procedure, the next move is to acquire the vacant land in excess of ceiling limit by publishing a notification by the Competent authority. Such notification is to contain that the concerned land will be acquired by the concerned State Government; and also claims of interested persons can be made by them. On determination of such claims, the Competent authority to declare by notification that the concerned land is acquired by the State Government.

Further, section 11 being important makes provisions as to making of payments by the State Government concerned for acquiring such vacant land, to the persons interested therein. And for determining the disputes as to such acquisition, the persons being aggrieved can approach to the Urban Land Tribunal with his appeal. The said Tribunal is to be constituted by the State Government and while deciding such appeals the Tribunal are conferred with all powers and procedure of the Civil Court dealing with the appeals within the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. Provisions as to second appeal have also been provided under the Act, which should lie before the concerned High Court.

Besides all these most relevant provisions, the Act also provides for several other provisions including, the provision empowered the competent authority to enter in the Vacant land or land consisting building thereof for making survey and doing measurements for the purposes of this Act. However, if any particulars respecting the concerned land, is being concealed, etc. then persons liable thereof will be held responsible to pay penalty.

All such lands so acquired under this Act are required to be disposed of as per provisions of section 23 of the Act, where the State Government can allot such lands to the persons for industrial purpose or for providing residential accommodation of approved type to the employees of any industry. Besides this, the further provisions are also made being relevant to the purpose of the Act, and some of those are explained. The Competent authority is having certain other powers under the Act, which are provided under section 31 and are similar to that of certain powers of civil Court provided under provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. The State Government can issue necessary directions to the Competent authority and the Central Government can give necessary directions to the State Governments. The Competent authority is required to furnish relevant returns and reports to the State Government concerned.

Section 38 of the Act describes certain offences under this Act and also provides for punishment in relation thereto. Section 39 provides for offences by companies under this Act and person liable thereof. Further, the Court taking cognizance of offences under this Act, should proceed with, only after there is a written complaint made by the Competent authority or authorised officer thereof and such Court should not be inferior to that of Metropolitan Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate of the first class. All officers who are acting under this Act, Rules, etc. under this Act, should be treated as Public servant. The Central Government under this Act is empowered to provide for Rules, for carrying on the provisions of this Act and such rules to provide on matters enlisted under section 46. Lastly, the said Government is also empowered to provide for orders removing difficulties which can arise while giving effect to the provisions of this Act. The present Act is, however, now repealed by the provisions of the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Repeal Act, 1999 (Act no. 15 of 1999).

by Faim Khalilkhan Pathan.