Gujarat Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Act, 2020

The Gujarat Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Act, 2020 recently came into force in the state of Gujarat. The law seeks to protect small farmers and citizens against land- grabbing through establishment of committees and special courts in each district. It also has provisions of 14 years of imprisonment for land grabbers. Persons illegally taking possession of land- both directly and indirectly will be considered land grabbers under this law.

Key Features of the Act

  • According to the act the land grabber is defined as the person who illegally grabs the land, threatens the owner, provides money for construction, extorts rents.
  • The persons found guilty under the act are liable for 10 to 14 years of imprisonment.
  • The act has included provisions to restore the possession of grabbed land
  • A committee of seven officials for each district has been set up under the act. This committee is to be headed by the district collector. The other members of the committee are district Superintendent of Police, District Development Officer, municipal commissioner, chief executive officer of Urban Development Authority, police commissioner. This committee will meet once in 15 days. And aggrieved persons can approach the committee with a written complaint. The committee in turn will appoint an officer to inquire the complaint. The enquiry officer should submit a report and A committee has to take a decision within 21 days. If the complaint was genuine the committee will order registration of FIR against the accused person. The investigation will be done by the police officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. The police have to submit the charge sheet within 30 days of the FIR.
  • The special courts set up under the act have been provided with a time frame of 6 months to dispose these cases. These special courts have the powers of both criminal and civil courts.
  • The act allows the district collectors to take Suo Moto cognizance in situations of grabbing government land.

Concerns

With the enforcement of the act the current system of special investigation team in each district of Gujarat will come to an end. The team deals with land related disputes. According to the additional chief secretary of the state, there are more than 400 FIR registered with the team.

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