President Ram Nath Kovind has given his assent to the Bill amending the Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provisions of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas Act, passed by the Gujarat Assembly in 2019, stated an official release from Minister of State for Home, Pradeepsinh Jadeja, on Monday. The amended Act will help prohibit the transfer of immovable property in disturbed areas and protect tenants from vacating the properties, the release added.
A Bill amending the Act was passed in the Gujarat Assembly by a majority last year. The ruling BJP had brought the amendment Bill to plug the loopholes in the Act and check polarisation of different areas in the state. The Act is in force in various parts of the state, including Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Himmatnagar, Godhra, Kapadvanj and Bharuch.
Under the Act, the transfer of any immovable property in disturbed areas cannot be done without permission of the district collector concerned.
The release quoted Jadeja saying that the amended Act provides to declare any area of the state as a disturbed area, wherein the tranquility and public order has been disturbed due to riots or mob violence. The amended Act has penal provisions of three to five years of imprisonment and fine of either Rs 1 lakh or 10% of the jantri rate (ready reckoner of property prices in different parts of the state), whichever is higher.
It also said that the amended Act has a provision to constitute an advisory committee which will assess if there is a proper balance of people’s clusters in a disturbed area. The committee may also give suggestions to the state government for effective implementation of the Act.
Jadeja said that earlier, while giving approval for the transfer of a property in a disturbed area, the collector had to check only two aspects – if the seller has sold the property on free volition and if he has got a reasonable price for the same. Now, he added, the collector also has to ascertain if transfer of the property results in polarization of a particular community in the area or has the possibility of the same.
The amended Act has also enlarged the scope of the term “transfer of property” in the disturbed area, while bringing the transfer of property through gift, exchange, lease or sale under its purview. The amendment allows the state government to review the decision of concerned collectors granting approval of transfer of a property in a disturbed area, even if there is no appeal against such an approval.
The release further stated that under the amended Act, a committee will be formed in every district and commissionerate areas of the state consisting of the concerned police commissioner/superintendent of police, district collector and regional municipal commissioner. This will guide the state government in declaring an area as a disturbed area. The same committee will also assist a state-level monitoring and advisory committee to be formed under the provisions of the Act.
Gujarat’s Disturbed Areas Act
The Gujarat government has announced that it would place parts of Khambhat, a town in Anand district under the Disturbed Areas (DA) Act due to the recent communal violence outbreaks in the town.
The Act, also known as the Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provision for Protection of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas Act, 1991,aims at preventing distress sale of properties in communally-sensitive areas.
Under this Act, permission of district collector is mandatory for the sale or transfer of property in the areas notified as “disturbed” to ensure that the sale was not out of any distress or compulsion, and to see that the seller had received a fair price.
The Act is currently in force in parts of Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Bharuch, Kapadvanj, Anand and Godhra
The DA Act was first introduced in Ahmedabad in 1986to check the large scale distress sale of properties mainly by people of a particular community due to continuous riots in Ahmedabad.
The then Gujarat Chief Minister brought in an ordinance which was later converted into the DA Act in 1991.
However, the focus of the Act has changed from checking distress sale of properties to checking polarisation of disturbed areas through the transfer of properties by alleged coercive means.