Uttar Pradesh Consolidation of Holding Act: A Deep Insight
This Blog is written by Shaurya Nagpal from Bennett University, Greater Noida. Edited by Prakriti Dadsena.
Land consolidation is the process of readjusting and rearranging fragmented land parcels and ownership so as to form larger and judicious land holdings through proper planning. From an economic growth perspective, land reforms are considered to be the most crucial in bringing about agricultural improvements. A crucial aim of land consolidation has been in ensuring redistribution, regulation and rationalisation of the land ownership and subsequently benefit the cultivating class through the improved size of farmlands, better use of farming technology and also provide enhanced agricultural produce. It has widely been implemented for improving the rural framework and to develop sustainable environmental policies.
The state of Uttar Pradesh since the time of independence been a major farming state in the country. It has witnessed various peasantry movements which had prompted numerous land-reforms in the state to ensure faster agricultural and economic progress. The Uttar Pradesh Consolidation of Holdings Act, 1953 had received the President assent in March 1954 was one of the first Acts in the country which took up the process of this land reforming process to boost the agricultural economy across the state.
ANALYSIS OF THE ACT
Section 3(2) of the Act defines consolidation thereby describing it as a rearrangement of land holdings in a unit among the tenure-holders such that their respective holdings are made more compact.
Under Section 3 (4C), the term holding has been defined as parcels of land which is held under one tenure by a tenure-holder single or jointly with other tenure holders.
Furthermore, Section 3(5) of this Act defines land and describes it as which has been held or occupied for the purpose of agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry along with the trees, wells, etc. existing on the holding.
Tenure-holder has been defined under Section 3(11) describing it as a bhumidhar with transferable rights or a bhumidhar with non-transferrable rights which includes:
1. An asami
2. Government lessee or Government grantee
3. a co-operative farming society satisfying such conditions as may be prescribed
Consolidation of land is a complex and lengthy process and involves various steps which have been discussed under the Act as follows:
1. Declaration and Notification Regarding Consolidation:
This is the first step in the process of land consolidation and has been described under Section 4 of the Act. Section 4(1)(a) deals with the fact that whenever the government is of the opinion that a district or some part of the state must be consolidated, the declaration shall be made through a Gazette notification and shall grant powers to the concerned officers for:
• Taking surveys for rectangulation, or levelling of land
• Fixing pillars for consolidation
• Doing necessary acts to check the suitability of the land for purpose of consolidation
Furthermore, Section 4 (2)(a) of the Act states that when the state government decided to undertake the activities under section 4(1)(a), then the state government should take requisite steps to inform the public through a gazette in a daily newspaper along with publishing the same in each unit of the area under consolidation through appropriate measures. Moreover, if any part has previously been consolidated and closed under Section 52 of this Act, the state government through desired means in the interest of public must again through a gazette inform about the consolidation process being undertaken once again.
Under the provisions of Section 5 of the Act, it shall be the duty of the District Deputy Director of Consolidation to undertake the process of consolidation along with diligently maintaining the record of rights, preparing the village map, field book and the annual register of each village. Also, section 6 of the Act states that it shall not be unlawful for the state government to cancel any notification issued under section 4 of this Act regarding consolidation of any area.
2. Revision of Map and field book:
This has been dealt with under Section 7 of the Act but forms a crucial part of the process of land consolidation. The process of land consolidation deals with altering the land structure and
therefore, it is a very important process with it being the duty of the District Deputy Director of Consolidation to revise the map of such village keeping in view the consolidated unit.
Section 8 of this Act deals with the revision of the field book and the current annual register for determination of valuations and shares in joint holdings. After the map has been prepared as per provisions of section 7, the consolidation committee along with the District Deputy Director of Consolidation shall undertake the process of evaluation of each plot after taking into consideration its productivity, location and agriculture facilities available like irrigation etc. along with an assessment of the value of trees, wells and other improvements in the plot to determine the amount of compensation. Moreover, they shall also ascertain the share of each owner in a holding and subsequently determine the share of separate tenure-holders in the case of a joint holding to ensure smooth partition to facilitate proper consolidation.
3. Preparation of statement of principles and disposal of cases relating to land disputes:
This is the most important process before the enforcement of the scheme of consolidation. Preparation of statement of principles and disposal of land dispute cases have been dealt under Section 8-A and 9-A of this Act respectively. The consolidation committee must set forth the principles which need to be followed for the consolidation process, taking into account the following:
• Details of areas, as far as they can be determined at this stage, to be earmarked for extension of abadi including an area for abadi site for Harijans and landless persons in the unit.
• The basis on which the tenure-holders will contribute land for extension of abadi and for other public purposes
• Details of land to be earmarked for public purposes out of land vested in a Gaon Sabha or a Local Authority under Section 117 or Section 117-A of the Uttar Pradesh Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, 1950
Under section 9-A, a critical task is to settle the pending land disputes to ensure faster land consolidation process with it being the responsibility of the Assistant Consolidation Officer to settle disputes, rectify the mistakes and thereby ensure partition by bringing about conciliation between the parties before him and pass requisite orders. The basic function of the Assistant Consolidation Officer under this section is to settle:
1) objections in respect of claims to land or partition of joint holdings are filed, after hearing the parties concerned
2) no objections are filed after making such enquiry as he may deem necessary
4. Enforcement of Scheme:
Section 24 of the Act deals with the possession and accrual of compensation of trees and etc., here the section states that Consolidation Scheme will come into force when the Settlement Officer of consolidation will fix a date and inform the concerned unit, from that day the tenure holder would be entitled to enter the property and possession of the plot, the tenure holder shall be entitled to the wells trees and other things existing on plot and is liable to pay the former tenure holder for the trees wells and other things and improvements.
Section 27 of the Act talks about the new records which need to be prepared after the new consolidation scheme. Section 28 of the Act provides for the delivery of possession were the Asst. Consolidation Officer on the application of the tenure holder has to put the landholder in the actual possession of the property and with that, they have the full power including contempt resistance which can be exercised by the Civil Court.
Section 28 also provides for compensation which must be paid by the tenure holder for the standing crop on the plot he has been given possession of. Section 29 also talks about the compensation paid where the tenure holder has the land contributed to public purpose by him, this section provides that if the land is of a bhumidhar with transferable rights four times and in case of non -transferable rights two times of the land revenue as prescribed under Section 29AA of the Act. Whereas in the case of trees wells and other property on land the amount will be prescribed in accordance with section 19.
The consequences from the day of possession of the piece of land by the tenure holder in accordance with this Act are:
The rights liabilities and title of the land are considered to be of the new tenure holder in possession of the land and the same has been ceased to exist of the previous tenure holder. The new tenure holder entering the possession of the chak (piece of land) will have the rights liabilities in regard to the as if he had in the holding with benefits of an irrigation system from a private source till it exists, as the previous tenure holder had. The land conferred upon the local authority or the Gaon Sabha to the tenure holder shall be presumed by the State Government under section117 &117-A, which would come under the Uttar Pradesh Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act and will be handled with the tenure holder. The rights of the public over the land or in the land for any purpose will cease to exist as after the declaration made under Section 19-A(2) and be for an only a specific purpose as prescribed in the final Consolidation Scheme. Any kind of obstruction on the holding of the tenure holder who is deemed to get possession or is in the possession of the land by any means (lease, mortgage etc.) in regards to the holding, cease which has been prescribed in the Consolidation Scheme which said to be final.
The key objective of this method of land consolidation has been to bring about equitable distribution of land to facilitate agricultural growth and thereby aid in economic development. Efficient use of this technique shall not only improve the productivity of the crop but also support the efficient usage of technology-driven newer techniques which shall enhance labour productivity, reduce production costs and promote efficient, effective and judicious usage of land. The Uttar Pradesh Consolidation of Holding Act, 1953 was laid down with similar objectives and if it continues to be implemented with due diligence and fairness, the state could reap large economic benefits in the long run.