Agricultural Land Ceiling
The Land Ceiling Act, in its structure and process, follows the common
pattern. The first enactment in Tamil Nadu on land ceiling was the Tamil Nadu Land
Reforms (Fixation of Ceiling on Land) Act, 1961 (called the Principal Act) which
received the assent of the President on the 15th April 1962 and was published in the
Official Gazette on the 2nd May 1962. The object was equitable distribution of land to
the landless by fixing the ceiling on the holdings of agricultural land so as to render
the surplus available for distribution to the landless poor.
The ceiling limit for a family consisting of five members was fixed as 30
standard acres. For every additional member of the family consisting of more than
five members, an additional extent of five standard acres was allowed in addition to
the ceiling area of 30 standard acres, subject to the overall ceiling of 60 standard
acres. Any female member of a family having lands in her own name on the date of
commencement of the Act is entitled to hold stridhana property upto a ceiling of 10
standard acres. Planters were allowed excess land subject to the maximum of 20%
of contiguous area of existing plantation after getting permission from the Land
Board under section 31 of the Act.
Ceiling laws were enacted and enforced actually in two phases, the earlier
phase covering the period from 1960 to 1972 before the National Guidelines were
laid down and the latter since 1972 after the adoption of the National Guide Lines.
There were two units of application, namely the individual land holder and the
family. The classes of land, which were exempted from the operation of ceiling laws
varied widely in the States. The legislative measures had loop-holes which were
taken advantage of by the bigger landed interests to circumvent the laws. In
anticipation of the ceilings, the big land holders partitioned their holdings and
fictitiously transferred them in pieces to other individuals through benami transfers
on a very large scale.
The entire ceiling legislation was examined by the Central Land Reforms
Committee, which made certain recommendations on the basis of which the Chief
Ministers in their Conference held in July, 1972, laid down the ‘National Guide lines’
that were to govern the ceiling legislation in future. The post 1972 ceiling legislation
has been rationalized and put more or less on a uniform basis through out the
country based on the National Guide lines.
Meanwhile, by the Tamil Nadu Land Reforms (Reduction of Ceiling on Land)
Act, 1970, the ceiling for a family of not more than 5 members was reduced to 15
standard acres. The exemption granted under the Principal Act for lands grown with
sugarcane and grazing lands was withdrawn by Act 41/71 with effect from 15.1.1972
and the overall ceiling limit of 60 standard acres was reduced to 40 standard acres
by Act 20/72 and then to 30 standard acres by Act 30/72. Originally the trusts were
exempt but later by Act 37/72, a ceiling limit was fixed according to the character of
the trust, and the trusts were prohibited from acquiring agricultural lands after
1.3.1972. However, if any trust acquired land after 1.3.1972 for educational or
hospital purposes, such trust may apply to Government for grant of permission under
section 37-B of the Act. Act 20/72 provided for grant of permission by Government
under Section 37-A for industrial and commercial undertakings to hold lands in
For the surplus lands taken over by Government, amount is payable which
earlier was fixed on the basis of multiples of the net annual income which was the
amount of fair rent less the land revenue. The multiples which ranged from 12 to 9
times for slabs of Rs.5000 of the net annual income were brought down by Act 39/72
so as to range from 12 to 2 times. The amount is payable in 10 annual instalments.
The Constitution 24th Amendment Act which came into force on November 5,
1971 amended Article 368. The Constitution 24th Amendment Act enacted that
Parliament may in exercise of its constituent power amend by way of addition,
variation or repeal any provision of the Constitution in accordance with the procedure
laid down in Article 368, and that nothing in Article 13 shall apply to any amendment
under Article 368.
Following the majority decision in Bank Nationalization case (R.C.Cooper
V.Union of India (1970) 3 SCR 530: (1970) 1 SCC 248), that ‘compensation’ meant
“the equivalent in terms of money of the property compulsorily acquired” according
to ‘relevant principles’ which principles must be appropriate to the determination of
compensation for the particular class of property acquired, the Constitution 25th
Amendment Act which came into force on April 20, 1972 amended Article 31(2) and
Article 31(2-A) of the Constitution. The effect of these two amendments was twofold.
First, no property shall be compulsorily acquired or requisitioned save for a
public purpose and save by authority of law which provides for an amount which
may be fixed by law or which may be determined in accordance with such principles
and given in such manner as may be specified in such law. The word ‘amount’ was
substituted for ‘compensation’ in the sub-article by the 25th Amendment. Secondly,
nothing in Article 19(1)(f) shall affect any law or is referred to in Article 31(2). The
second part of the Constitution 25th Amendment Act was introduction of Article 31-C
which enacts that notwithstanding anything contained in Article 13 no law giving
effect to the policy of State towards securing principles prescribed in clauses (b) and
(c) of Article 39 shall be deemed to be void on the ground that it takes away or
abridges any of the right conferred by Articles 14, 19 and 31; and no law containing
a declaration that it is giving effect to such a policy can be called in question in any
court on the ground that it does not give effect to such policy.
The lands notified as surplus on or after 27th October 1978 are governed for
the purpose of payment of amount for the surplus lands by the revised schedule III
to the Land Ceiling Act as amended by Act II of 1979, according to which all surplus
lands acquired from a person by the Government are treated as one unit and the
annual value taken as 5 times the land revenue for waste and forest lands and 20
times the land revenue or 20 times of (land revenue + Rs.5 or Rs.9 per acre)
depending on the type of land (wet, dry, manavari, irrigated etc.) such that the
annual value so determined should not exceed Rs.3500 per acre.
The disposal of surplus lands acquired by the Government is governed by the
Disposal of Surplus Land Rules, 1965. An order of priority is laid down for
assignment under the Rules.
The area declared as surplus till 31st March 2005 is 2,05,357 acres. The area
covered by Court proceedings is 8,469 acres; thus the net area available for
distribution was 1,96,888 acres. The area for which distribution has been completed
till 31st March 2005 is 1,96,654 acres.
Source : Govt. website