Proceedings of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly assembled at 10.00 hours on Saturday the 17th November, 1971 in the Assembly Chamber, Shillong with the Speaker in the Chair.
(To which oral replies were given)
Lands within Khasi Hills
Shri Gilfred Singh Giri asked :
|*3||Will the the Minister in charge, Revenue be pleased to state whether all the lands within Khasi Hills vest with the Government ?|
Shri S.D.D. Nichols - Roy (Minister, Revenue) replied :
|3.||All the land in Khasi Hill do not vest with the Government.|
Shri Gilfred Singh Giri :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, may I know from the Minister in charge with whom these lands vest ?
Shri Stanley D.D. Nichols - Roy (Minister, Revenue) :- There are different kinds of land in Khasi Hills, some vest with the clans, some with the private parties, some with community lands and so on.
Shri Justman Swer :- May I know from the Hon'ble Minister whether the lands like Kech's Trace or the lands adjoining the Bungalow of the Chief Secretary of Assam, the lands on the slope of the Shillong College whether these lands do not belong to the Government and also the lands around the Circuit House and the P.W.D Inspection Bungalows' whether these lands do not belong to the Government ?
Shri Stanley D.D. Nichols - Roy (Minister, Revenue) :- The lands with in the Shillong Municipality so far as their details are concerned I will require to notice to examine each and every particular case. There are certain parts of Shillong Municipality which belong to the Government but which particular lands belong to the Government and which do not will have to be examined.
Pay Scaled of Chief Engineer and Superintending Engineer.
Shri Gilfred Singh Giri asked :
*4. Will the Minister, in charge , Finance be pleased to state -
|(a) Whether it is a fact that the scales of pay of the Chief Engineer and the Superintending Engineer of the P.W.D. Meghalaya has been raised by the Government ?|
|(b) Whether is it a fact that the Accountant General, Assam, Nagaland and Meghalaya has not authorised of their pay at the increased scale ?|
|(c) If the reply to (b) above in is in the affirmative what action has been taken by Government so that the Officers concerned can get their pay in the revised scale ?|
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Finance) replied :
|4.||(a) - Yes.|
|(b) - The Accountant General has not authorised drawal of the pay at the increased scales to the present incumbents of these posts who are drawn from the Government of Assam.|
|(c) -The question is admissibility of the enhanced pay scales to Assam Officers serving in connection with the affairs of Meghalaya under section 65 of the Assam Re- organisation (Meghalaya) Act, 1969 has to be considered after the rules envisaged under that section are finalised. This matter has been taken up with the Government of India.|
Shri Gilfred Singh Giri :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, besides these two officers may I know who are the victims of A.G's action ?
Mr. Speaker :- That is a new question.
Shri Rokendro Dkhar :- Is it a fact that not only these two officers whose pay has been revised ?
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Finance) :- Also the Additional Chef P.H.E.
Shri Rokendro Dkhar :- May I know whether the case of these three officers has been considered to the effect that their pay has been revised ?
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Finance) :- This is a question which the cabinet has gone in to and found that it is necessary and justified to enhance the pay scales of these officers.
Shri Rokendro Dkhar :- Is it a fact that the Government think that the pay of the other officers and staff of the Government is sufficient ?
Shri Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Before the Government could come to a decision we have also consulted the pay scales of other States and after considering that, we found that the pay scales given to me the engineers of Assam were much lower than the scales given to the engineers of others states. In view of the responsibility which is going to be entrusted to them and the scope of promotion being limited we have taken the decision to fall the in line with the pay scales given to the officer in other states so that we can attract good officers.
Shri Rokendro Dkhar :- Whether the Government propose to revise the pay scales of other employees of the State Government ?
Shri Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Sir, I think that question is not linked that with this particular question.
Mr. Speaker :- Actually that the is a new question.
(To which replies were laid on the Table)
Deep - well at Chibinang
Shri Nurul Islam asked :
1. Will the Minister of P.W.D (Public Health) be pleased to state -
|(a) Whether the Government has sanctioned a deep well at Chibinang Refugee Camp ?|
|(b) Whether it is a fact that the same deep well is going to be installed at Phulbari which is a lower region than Chibinang and also 8 Kilometres away from the said place ?|
|(c) If so, why ?|
Shri Edwingson Bareh [Minister, P.W.D (R & B),. etc] replied :
|1.||(a) - No.|
|(b) - Does not arise.|
|(c) - Does not arise.|
Garobadha - Mahendraganj P.W.D Road.
Shri Samarendra Sangma asked :
2. Will the Minister in charge of P.W.D (R & B) be pleased to state -
|(a) Whether Government is aware that the Garobadha - Mahendraganj P.W.D Road has been badly damaged due to heavy vehicular traffic ?|
|(b) If so, whether the Government is taking adequate early measures to improve this P.W.D Road ?|
Shri Edwingson Bareh [Minister, P.W.D (R & B),. etc] replied :
|2.||(a) - Yes.|
|(b) - Yes. Efforts are being made to maintain the road to the possible extent.|
Construction of Ampati - Salmanpara - Purakhasia P.W.D Road
Shri Samarendra Sangma asked :
3. Will the Minister, in charge P.W.D (R & B) be pleased to state -
|(a) When the construction work will be taken up by the P.W.D in the portion of the Ampati - Salmanpara Purakhasia P.W.D Road , from Cheppagiri to Purakhasia ?|
|(b) Whether due attention is being given for the construction of bridges and culvert on that said P.W.D Road simultaneously ?|
Shri Edwingson Bareh [Minister, P.W.D (R & B),. etc] replied :
|3.||(a) - As and when funds are available.|
|(b) - Does not arise.|
Mr. Speaker :- Now we come to item No. 2 of today's list of business.
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Law) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that the Meghalaya Adaptation and Application of Laws Bill, 1971 be taken into consideration.
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. The question is that the Meghalaya Adaptation and Application of Laws Bill, 1971 be taken in to consideration.
(The Motion was carried)
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Law) :- I beg to move that the Meghalaya Adaptation and Application of Laws Bill, 1971 be passed.
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. The question is that the Meghalaya Adaptation and Application of Laws Bill, 1971 be passed.
(The motion was carried and Bill passed)
Shri S. D.D Nichols Roy (Minister, Revenue) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that the Meghalaya Transfer of Land (Regulation) Bill 1971 be taken in to consideration.
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. In this connection, I have received notice of an amendment from Shri Akramozamman.
*Shri Akramozamman :- Sir, I wish to make an amendment to this Bill viz. that the Meghalaya Transfer of Land (Regulation) Bill, 19711 be referred to a Select Committee consisting of seven members as below :
|(1) Minister In charge of Revenue.|
|(2) Shri Grohonsing A. Marak, Deputy Speaker.|
|(3) Shri Gilfred Singh Giri M.L.A|
|(4) Shri Johndeng Pohrmen, M.L.A|
|(5) Shri Singjan Sangma, M.L.A|
|(6) Shri Rokendro Dkhar, M.L.A and|
|(7) The Mover.|
The select Committee is to submit its report by the 15th of January 1972 and four members will form the quorum.
Sir, on many an occasion in this House, we have discussed about the land problem of the State of Meghalaya and the growing population therein and the Revenue Minister informed the House that the Government is contemplating to bring a legislation on this. When I was saying that capitalism has started on land that was my information to the House and to this the Revenue Minister was pleased to inform this House and that the Government will take in to consideration how this land capitalism can be minimised and totally stopped by enacting some sort of legislation like Ceiling Act or some other Act. The thing is that land cannot be increased, it cannot be produced by human beings. Of course, sometimes rivers cause some silting and it is caused by nature and some land can be reclaimed for agriculture purposes. But the total area of land cannot be increased according to the necessity of population. Secondly, in our State about 95 % of the people are living a life whose economic condition is based on land. So, when this Land Transfer Bill is coming for consideration in this House it is very good no doubt to see how this land capitalism could be stopped by this Act. How the poorer section of the people could be protected by this Act and how, as it was declared by the Government in this august House that every class of people of Meghalaya State all shall get equal opportunities in every matter and how equal justice will be meted out to the permanent residents of the State of Meghalaya. All the things will have to be considered.
Sir, one factor that strikes my mind, and I believe it strikes everybody's mind when we come to Clause No.3 - "Transfer of land". Here it is said that "no land in Meghalaya shall be transferred by a tribal to a non - tribal or by a non - tribal to another non - tribals except with the previous sanctions of the competent authority" Sir, in this connection I wish to mention another fact. In the Garo Hill District Council, there is an Act of land Transfer which is almost of the same nature, and I want to know what will be the effect of that Act when this Land Transfer Act comes in to force, Besides m the STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS, it has been stated that the been object to of the Bill is to regulate transfer of land. This is necessary in order to protect the interest of the Scheduled Trines in Meghalaya. But this Act should see that the interest of the Scheduled Tribes, not only in regard to land but in every sphere should be protected and that is why there is a special provision embodied in the constitution of India itself. Sir, now one thing that strikes me very much is that no non - tribal permanent residents of the State who constitute the minority will be permanent residents of the State who constitute the minority will be barred by this Bill who transfer land to outsiders and non - tribals. There is no difference between the minority, non - tribals of Meghalaya or Non - tribals of any other parts of the country, either of Assam, Bengal Bihar, Punjab, Kashmir, etc. They all stand on the same footing, This matter requires consideration of the Government to see that the minority communities interest, particularly whose avocation depends on agriculture should be protected. They must be placed on the the same footing. They must be have the freedom in dealing with the matter of transfer of land for various agricultural purposes. So, in this respect when a non - tribal transfer his land to a tribal or a non - tribal purchases land from a tribal I believe permission should be granted. As for example, suppose a non tribal of the district of Garo Hill purchases land from a non tribal of Goalpara district grant of sanction should be given, But here there is no specific mention as to who would get the preference. Under clause 4, it is stated that in grating or refusing sanction under Section 3 the competent authority shall take in to account, the following matters according to the circumstances of each case. But there is no obligatory provision as to how this authority will enquire and how this authority will give permission or not.
Sir, similarly the definition of transfer means the conveyance, of land of one person to another and includes gift, sale, exchange, more gage, lease surrender or any other mode of transfer. Sir, when we are going to introduce scientific method of agriculture there should be scope of for consolidation of holdings. But this Act does not help in any way for consolidation of holdings, particularly the holdings of the farmers. Suppose, I have two bighas of land just near the two bighas of land of Mr. Sangma or of Mr. Nurul Islam and if we want to exchange our land for consolidation of the holdings to avoid fragmentation and mechanised cultivation, such exchange of land has been barred by this Bill. This kind of exchange of land has been barred by this Bill. This kind of exchange of agricultural land has not been mentioned. I think such cases they do not have to take permission. Sir, now what we have experienced in the operation of the Bill is almost in the same way except clause 4. But except this matter other matters are there. But that way puts people in difficulty specially the proper section, which statistics that there is a large portion of people who term themselves and also by the Government statistics who as labourers whose ovation is particularly non - agricultural, Somehow, or other, if they want to purchase land, they are to make applications with additional expenditure. For the richer section there is no additional expenditure but for the proper section there is. Suppose I have only Rs. 300, how will it be possible for me to go an approached the different Department concerned and spend a large amount of money on this. Sir, now a days you know how difficult it is to grant section of purchase of land and how much time, money and botheration are involved in the process. The mover of the Bill knows about this. The petition may not be possibly disposed of within six months. So for six moths one has to wait in giving hearing enquiry etc. The poor will have to wait and spend money in this way. So, these are the factors which will not bring any good result to the society and particularly in the agricultural activity. I feel that it will put some burden as in the case of Garo Hills district's Similar Act. So this matter also requires consideration when we are restricting the transfer of land within the State of Meghalaya. We are to see as the Government desire, in order to help the minorities develop their proprietorship. It is also the desire of the Meghalaya Government as declared previously. So, it would have been better if there was consideration for the permanent residents, permanent non - tribals residents in Meghalaya so that there may not be any bar to give some relief to the minority section of the people. Instead there are provisions in which there is some concession to some section of the people - the minorities here. It is also very good for the non tribal residents in Meghalaya. But I am sorry that there is another section of people even among non - tribal which requires some facilities as have been declared in the the Constitution itself. That is the Schedule Castes besides Ravas and Kacharies. There should have been some provisions in this Act for these scheduled castes who are declared as backward by Constitution of India and provisions have been laid down in the Constitution for their protection I do not wish to go further. But these are the problems which require detailed study and thorough security. That is why I have come forward with this amendment for reconsideration of this Bill. I suggest that this Bill should be referred to the Select Committee so that protection of the rights of the people, particularly non - tribal minorities, i.e. the permanent residents in Meghalaya can be safe guarded. But I have no objection even if certain restriction are imposed in between tribal and permanent non - tribal resident of the District. Also I have no objection if some restrictions are imposed in respect of transfer of land between a tribal and a permanent non - tribal. My contention is only that the interest of non - tribal Scheduled Castes minorities, who are 95 per cent dependent on agriculture, should be protected. Of course I have no objection if there are some restriction in respect of transaction of land by a person who has got 50 bighas of land under his control. I appreciate that there should be some land ceiling Acts so that the poorer section of the non - tribal agriculturists are not deprived of their inherent rights over the property. Hence I suggest this amendment. I feel that this is a very important factor.
It has been laid down in the Bill that "the proposed transfer is likely to promote the economic interest of the Scheduled Trines in the area". But on this particular aspect there may be difference between person to person and officer to officer and authority to authority. So in all these matters I feel that there should be proper scrutiny of the Bill and for that purpose this should be referred to the Select Committee. I think that 15th January is not so far when there will be election if we get the full Statehood. I believe there will be another Session of the Assembly before the election. I hope that the Government will not find much difficulty in passing the Bill after proper scrutiny by the Select Committee. Lastly, I appeal to this House to consider this motion of amendment in view of the professed policy of the Government of Meghalaya that effort would be made for the development of all sections of the people and there would be no injustice, etc.
Mr. Speaker :- Is there any other hon. Member who would like to support or oppose this Amendment ?
Shri S.C. Deb :- Mr,. Speaker, Sir, I second the Amendment
Mr. Speaker :- You nee not second it. I mean whether you would like to say anything in addition.
Shri Singjan Sangma :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, in support of the motion moved by my friends, Mr. Zaman, I wish to speak a few words only. I do not wish to lengthen my time by putting so many points of arguments. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I feel the points raised by my friend need further scrutiny by this House. So his suggestion to refer this Bill to the Select Committee appears to be sound and wise. I feel that the House should accept his amendment to refers it to the Select Committee and thereby cause justice to all sections of the people in this State without infringing on the interest of the tribal people.
Mr. Speaker :- May I request the Minister concerned to reply.
*Shri Rokendro Dkhar :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, rising to oppose the amendment as put forward I would like to say that the Bill that is before the House is a must in the interest of the tribal people living in Meghalaya especially in the district of Khasi Hill in view of the fact that only a few weeks ago our Land Transfer Act was thrown away by the Supreme Court. In view of this there is no protection of land in our district. I am afraid, the non - tribal Meghalayans, will come before January, as proposed by my friend, after submission of the Bill to a Select Committee and before that time non - tribal Meghalayans will continue to grab land in this district. Then the interest of our poor tribal people here will be hampered, and I am sure, that the non - tribal outsiders will come before January and grab all lands in this district. I am also quite sure that the Government is not going to deprive the rights of the non - tribals Meghalayans to disown their land from their occupation., I had the experience of the last 19 years in the District Council that although we had a Land Transfer Act from 1953, there was no such grievance among the non-tribal people to complain against any injustice done to them by the implementation of the land Transfer Act. I am afraid, Mr. Speaker, Sir, if we refer back this Bill to the Select Committee, it will only delay matters.
Delaying matters in respect of land transfer will be a death - blow to the tribal people living in this District. Another point I would like to say is that the hon. Member should be have submitted his amendments to certain different sections of the Bill then the House can consider and go into the merits and demerits of those amendment so that the non - tribal Meghalayans may not not suffer from any injustice. I say again that Government will see that no undue hardship will be done to the non - tribals living in Meghalaya. With these few words I oppose the motion.
Mr. Speaker :- Mr. Diengdoh.
Shri A. B. Diengdoh :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I think the hon. member has covered all the points.
Mr. Speaker :- Mr. Momin.
Shri Witherson Momin :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I rise to oppose the amendment moved by Shri Zaman. On going through the provisions of the Meghalaya Transfer of Land (Regulation) Bill, 1971, as presented before this House today for consideration and passing, I see nothing generally that will prejudice the economic interests of non - tribals in Meghalaya State. The main objective of the Bill is to protect the interests of the Scheduled Tribes who economically lag far behind the non - tribals. It is generally observed that a poor man parts with his valuables whatsoever for the sake of his empty stomach and those of this his dependents. The recipient is a richer man. A poor man becomes poorer and rich man richer. If therefore, the Government do not take steps for legal protection of the interests in land in a State like ours, I am afraid, the percentage of land already passed into the hands of the non -tribals in the manner embodied in the Bill may increase to the detriment of the economic interests of our poor tribals. Our tribal people are mainly dependent upon the agriculture. They are not so business - minded in any form so far. For this, more time may be required. If, therefore, we even now keep looking on the undesirable transfer of the lands in the possession of the tribal people, it will simply jeopardize the interests of tribal people in land. If as proposed by Mr. Zaman , the mover of the amendment to refer the Bill to a Select Committee, that will simply delay matters. Hence I oppose the amendment.
Mr. Speaker :- Mr. Swer.
Shri S.P. Swer :- Mr. Speaker, Sir I stand oppose the amendment. The hon. mover, that the beginning, said that capitalism is trying to grow in our State and that is a fact. Capitalists are trying to own lands and become Zamindars and until and unless there is such a Bill, it is very likely that the non - tribal people who are from outside Meghalaya may come and grab and own lands. Therefore, it is high time that control and legislation on transfer of land is necessary especially in our district of Khasi Hills where land vests with many individual owners, institutions or communities. So this Bill seeks to prevent such capitalists from coming in to our State to own lands and become Zamindars. The mover also said that this Bill does not help the farmer to run his small plot of land in a mechanized way. I do not see that this Bill stands on the way of any agriculturist to run his farm in a mechanized way. And the whole contention of the hon. mover is that he fears that the non - tribal Meghalayans will face such difficulty to own land Meghalaya, but if we go through right clause 4 (3) there we see that "every application for sanction under this Section shall be disposed of by the competent authority as early as possible and not later than six months" and, again in clause 4 (4) "if no order is passed by the competent authority on such application within 6 months, it shall be deemed, that sanction has been accorded", So I think the fear which the hon. Member has been expressed is covered by this clause. These is no fear, even if you order for a tractor it will delay for months together.
Shri Akramozamman :- I think Mr. Speaker, Sir, he cannot give me guarantee that I shall get land.
Mr. Speaker :- The hon. Member need not give a guarantee but the Minister can give the guarantee.
Shri S.P. Swer :- Thank you. Mr. Speaker, Sir, you have helped me What I should like to say is this. There is no refusal to give sanction for transfer of land from non - tribal to another non - tribal for the purpose to own that land on transfer. We find that under clauses 4 (i) (d) it is clearly stated that the proposed transfer is likely to promote the economic interests of the Scheduled Trines living in that area. Here is the guarantee that even the non - tribal who has already got land, can get some more land if that land is to serve the interest of the scheduled tribes in that area. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I oppose the amendment moved by the hon. Member.
Shri P.R. Kyndiah :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I think it is good that we have got the opportunity to discuss this Bill and see things from a different angle, In fact, I am very happy that this Bill came in his session and I think it has been well time in so far as it will fill the vacuum that has been created especially, in regard, to Khasi Hill, which has the similar Acts that have been declared illegal by the Supreme Court. Sir, the provisions of the Bill have not differed substantially from the provisions of the Land Transfer Act of the Khasi and Jaintia Hills District Council. In that context, I welcome it, But there is a point which struck me after I have heard the Hon. member, Mr. Akramozamman , who was referring to a point of permanent residents. This point is a very good post in deed. now to put, the facilities of the non - tribal at the same par and at the same level with the ordinary tribals. If I am correct, the Bill here, does not stipulate anything about the taking away of land from the existing status - quo. Now, as it is, there are many non - tribals Meghalayans who are owning land who by and large, are permanent residents of the Meghalaya State. This Bill as Mr. Swer puts it, is only to make sure that there will be no commercialization of land. So, there is a no question of depriving the existing permanent non - tribal residents of Meghalaya who are ready owning land. It is only a question of regulating transfer of land, in so far as it is a legislation controlling augmenting more lands. So, I do not see really any force in the argument favoring the special provisions for the permanent residents. It is a good idea but I think in a point of law, it will be difficult to define non-tribal permanent residents besides it will create various difficulties if we are to accommodate all the permanent residents. Now, under section 4 (a) which say whether the non - tribals hold any land in Meghalaya, this provision is clear that while considering sanction or refusal of any application, this provision will be brought in which is a safe measure, Therefore, I feel there is no much force in What Mr. Akramozamman has said, In fact it will be a good augury for the State at this stage that we accept it in good grace as a whole. Sending the Bill to a Select Committee is a blanket motion not worthy of consideration. So for us in Khasi Hills we are very much concerned, and there is a need to take steps immediately. I do not go to the length of what Mr Rokendro has said for the non tribals but centrally, we are facing the vacuum and we cannot allow this vacuum continue. I oppose it because it is very very dangerous to allow the vacuum to continue. We should will remember that the protection of the interest of the scheduled tribes is a guaranteed provision under the Constitution. It is not that we are doing anything which is unconstitutional. The Bill is in line with the provisions of the Constitution. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I oppose the amendment moved by Mr. Akramozamman.
Shrimati Maysalin War : I rise to oppose the amendment moved by the hon. Member. The only heritage of the tribal people is land. Most of the tribals are neither rich nor business minded people. I just want to cite an incident about what has happened in the interior where I live. Some poor, cultivators, about 40 of them. cultivated a big area by paying to the land owners Rs. 5 per acre per year and this had been done for the last ten years. Suddenly, a rich mahajan came in collusion with some interested parties and bought the whole area for Rs. 60,000. We were very much surprised to see that such things could happen. The mahajan who bought b the land told me that he got it on permission granted by the District Council and because of the fact that the High Court has already given the ruling and the and the order passed., I think something to that effect. Anyway, during the last conference we had a Nongstoin, with many interested. parties, they were very much upset to hear about the whole affairs and wanted the Government to take up this matter immediately. I hope, that by introducing this bill, protection of land belonging to the cultivators and especially the tribal people living in Meghalaya, will be well effected. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I just wanted to say this and with these few words, I support the bill to be considered and passed immediately.
Mr. Speaker : Is there any other hon. Member who would like to speak ? (After a pause). Since no hon. Member would like to speak, may I request the Hon'ble Minister-in-charge to explain.
Shri Stanley D. D. Nichols Roy (Minister, Revenue) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, while appreciating the intention of the movers of the amendments, yet I am sorry that I cannot accept his suggestions by referring this Bill to a Select Committee. Normally, a Bill is referred to a Select Committee if it is a complicated Bill and it requires very careful scrutiny and is something quite new but since 1953. We have had this particular type of legislation at the District . It is necessary for this House to consider this Bill because as it had already been mentioned by some of the hon. Members, the Supreme Court has ruled out the District Council Act. In the case of Garo Hills, the Acts follow that of the United Khasi and Jaintia Hills Transfer of Land Act. This has been declared unconstitutional because the powers which the District Council exercised were understood but that powers for regulation of transfer of land were not there. Therefore, it is only filling up the vacuum in consultation with the District Councils it has been decided to bring forward this Bill;. It is nothing new and it is not a complicated Bill. It follows normally the practices that have been going on for the last 18 years Now, regarding some of practices that the Bill provides for disposing of certain applications on certain principles, it is not that non-tribals cannot hold land. As a matter of fact, it provides for only regulation under certain principles. I am sure that no one in that House or any one will welcome rich mahajans as already said by one of the hon. Members here, for taking over of land belonging to the poor tribal people by paying a lot of money. This has happened and will happen unless there is some form of protection and regulation. Now, there is also a provision for appeals against the order of the competent authority and now there is the danger of delay and that is why I am sorry, I cannot accept the suggestion to refer it to the Select Committee. As already pointed out by Mrs. War also since the passage of the Supreme Court decision, the Vacuum is created and there is no regulation for transfer of land and that is why it is necessary to pass this Bill quickly. Now, regarding land for agricultural purposes and progress this Bill will certainly not impede agricultural. progress. This is not a land ceiling Act and the principles under which the transfer will be considered are very clearly enumerated in Clause 4 and 4 (1) (d). So, whether the proposed transfer is likely to promote the economic interest of the scheduled tribes will have to be taken into the consideration when applications for transfer are considered. The Garo Hills District Council Land Transfer Act was already there. It follows that it is also illegal. Now another, fear is that those non-tribal Meghalaya's lands will be jeopardized and this is not at all correct. It does not have any retrospective effect and they are only requested to register their land so the Government would know their possession as to who was holding the land. I am sure that the genuine cases of Meghalayan tribals or non-tribals who wish to have land under the transfer, will certainly be considered on merit and only those who want to exploit lands for some time and exploit it for the future, will certainly be considered by the permanent authority to prevent their type of exploitation. But general, permanent residents of the State, will continue to exercise their right over their lands and there will be the competent authority who will take into consideration the principles that have been laid down in this Bill. We do not require reference to the Select Committee and as a matter of fact, after careful scrutiny by our legal experts even of the District Council Acts we have improved on these by providing for appeals, by laying down certain time limits and by providing certain principles by which the land would be considered for transfer. So with these words, I am sure that it will allay the apprehensions of the Members who have suggested reference to the Committee and because we cannot allow the vacuum to continue, we request the Members to pass the Bill as quickly as possible so that it will provide the Government with an opportunity to regulate the transfer of land in the State. With these words, I cannot accept the amendment that the Bill be referred to the Select Committee and I request the Member to withdraw his amendment.
Shri Akramozamman : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I have heard with rapt attention what my friends think that we are going to counter the argument in support of the Bill. Some of my friends particularly supported me but they do not desire that I should say these things. One of my friends said that permanency is a good sense. But if we take non-tribals to mean outsiders non-tribals, I think there will be no problem though that cannot be. The Hon'ble Minister has said that this kind of an Act has been in force in Khasi Hills since 18 years and similarly, in Garo Hills and in Jaintia Hills also. So far my knowledge goes and as far as I am concern, as a representatives of the District Council since, 1952. I know there is no dissatisfaction or hindrance for the permanent residents of Meghalaya and the non-tribals. I am saying this here from what I had experienced from the people who had made several representations. Therefore, I am not sure that whether it is not desirable for the Government to look into these things under all circumstances. I do not believe that one of my friends said even these 1½ millions people come and grab the land. The right of occupation between my loan and your land cannot be kept by others and if it can be occupied by others that is another things. So we cannot say anything about it and I am not convinced by the argument that this Bill shall give some relief to the permanent non-tribal residents who constitute the minority to have all the facilities to grow. I am not convinced at all and that is my experience and the experience of the agricultural non-tribal people of Meghalaya. I am sorry that I cannot withdraw my amendment and it should be clearly mentioned so that nobody should misunderstand me. I have not stated that there should not be any restriction on land transfer from a tribal to a non-tribal, whoever, he may be- an outsider or a permanent resident. I have not said also that there should not be any restriction on transfer of land from a non-tribal to an outsider non-tribal. There should be no restriction. But I only plead that there should not be any restriction in regard to the permanent residents. I also like to put forward a suggestion that there should be restriction in the consideration for possession of land. So, my argument stands. The question of poorer section and their condition has been sent for the last 18 years and I feel that it this amendment is taken into consideration, the Government will take this question in to consideration. That is my argument.
Shri Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, before the amendment is put to vote, I would like to point out to Shri Akramozamman that we cannot make a distinction between a non-tribal and an outsider in Meghalaya.. It will attract the constitutional difficulty. We are bringing his Bill under Clause 5 of Article19 of the Constitution, which reads like this "Nothing in sub-clause (c) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevents the State from making any law imposing reasonable restrictions on the exercise of any of the rights conferred by the said sub-clause either in the interest of the general public or for the protection of the interest of any scheduled tribes", But I must make it clear that it is not the intention of the Government that non -tribal Meghalayans will be put to hardship, It is a declared policy of the Government and the party to which I belong. that every one in Meghalaya would get protection. This protection will be as it is stated in clause 5, not only protection to tribals but it will be in the interest of the whole population in Meghalaya.
Now, regarding the delay I had the experience. I was also the Chief Executive Member of the Garo Hills District Council and had occasion to deal with this particular matter regarding transfer of land within the State. There has been complaint about delay in transfer of land. I would request Shri Akramozamman to go through the report submitted by Pataskas Commission. The Commission found that these allegations of delay in disposal of land transfer within the autonomous district in the then State of Assam were not correct. Moreover, there is an improvement here in spite of the fact that there was no delay even while this was dealt with under the provision of the District Council Act. The condition has improved, Sir, as pointed out by Shri Swer, if the matter is not disposed of within six months, it will be deemed that grant has been sanctioned for the transfer. So I do not see any scope and I would therefore, make an appeal to Shri Akramozamman no to stand in the way and not to have any apprehension. As I said a similar Act is in operation elsewhere in Assam. If we go to Chapter 10 of the Assam Regulation Act in the tribal belts, the permission of the Government is required. So it is not a new thing ; it is not a new Bill which required some guarantee, Similar Acts are existing and operating in Assam in the tribal belts and tribal blocks for the last 18 years. Moreover, this Bill is improved if I remember, alright in the District Council Act, I think certain provision had been laid down also under what consideration grant can be given or refused. Here we have laid soon a time limit for the disposal of cases of land transfer. Therefore, I would have agreed to that, if it was a new Bill, if it was a complicated Bill and we would have considered the desirability of sending it to a Select Committee, Therefore, I do not see any justification at all for delaying the matter by referring to a Select Committee I would therefore request Shri Akramozamman to graceful withdraw his amendment.
Shri Akramozamman :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, everybody, sees things in his own mind. There are some quarters which criticise our Chief Minister that he is too liberal and from that point, of view, there will be no obstruction in the way. But they are those who will operate the Bill whose mind may not be as liberal as the Chief Minister. (Laughter). This is the first time that I am not able to agree with the interruption. I do stick to my amendment.
Mr. Speaker :- Now, I put the amendment before the house, the question is that the Meghalaya Transfer of Land (Regulation) Bill, 1971 be referred to a Select Committee.
(The Motion of was negative and the amendment was lost)
Since the amendment is lost and there are no other amendments, may I ask the Minister concerned to move that the Bill be passed.
Shri S.D.D. Nichols- Roy (Minister, Revenue) :- Sir, I beg to move that the Meghalaya Transfer of Land (Regulation) Bill 1971 be passed.
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. I now put the main question. The question that the Meghalaya Transfer of Land (Regulation) Bill, 1971 be passed.
( The Motion was carried and the Bill passed).
Since there is no other business to be transacted today, I adjourn the House till 10.00 a.m. on Monday, the 29th November, 1971.
|Dated Shillong ;||
|The 27th November, 1971.||
Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.