Gujarat okays stricter penalty for violation of property law
The Gujarat assembly on Monday approved stricter punishment for violation of a state law that prohibits sale and tenancy of immovable property to persons of another religion in the areas notified as disturbed, amid opposition from the Congress party.
The amendment enhanced the punishment for violation of the Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provision for Protection of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas Act, 1991, from earlier six months to three to five years or fine of Rs 1 lakh or 10% of the stamp duty instead of earlier fine of Rs 10,000.
Another important change in the law approved by majority voice vote of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was mandatory district collector’s nod for any property transactions in the disturbed areas. Till now, consent of the buyer and the seller was required for property transaction. The change in the law also empowers the state government to review the collector’s decision in this regard, said Gujarat law minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasma. “Before giving a nod, the collector will check if the particular deal is leading to a possibility of polarization in any area and if there is possibility of imbalanced ratio of people from particular community. The collector will be assisted by a special investigation team comprising municipal commissioner and commissioner of police...,” Chudasma said.
The opposition Congress demanded abolition of the law claiming that it promotes “communal divide” and that such a law was not needed in a “peaceful state” like Gujarat. “The BJP has been ruling the state for over two decades now. When the ‘Gujarat Model’ is promoted as peaceful and progressive, such Act by the government will only divide the communities and push them to live in different areas. If Gujarat is safe, secured and not seen curfew in recent times, then why such an Act is required. The government should protect any property, irrespective of the community of the owner,” Gyassudin Sheikh, Congress MLA from Dariyapur in Ahmedabad said in the state assembly.
Chudasma said the changes in the law introduced by the Congress government in 1991 were required for its effective implementation. The law was first introduced through an Ordinance by the Congress-led government in 1986, soon after 1985 communal riots. It was converted into a law in 1991 by then Chimanbhai Patel led coalition government. “We are committed to maintain law and order. The new amendments will prevent anyone with vested interest to fuel communal fire,” Chudasma said.