Why in news?

The President of India, Ramnath Kovind, gave assent to the Gujarat Distributed Area act (Amendment) Bill 2019. This new act will amend the prohibition of transfer of immovable property and provision for the protection of tenants from eviction from premises in disturbed areas act 1991. The act was first introduced in Ahmedabad in 1986 because of large scale and continuous riots in the City.

Why did the government amend the Act?

  • As per the Gujarat government, the Bill to amend the Act was brought in after a large number of complaints were received from MLAs and other people about individuals who had skirted the provisions of the Act by taking advantage of legal loopholes in it. It was argued that this could potentially lead to the communal polarization of a particular locality.
  • In the earlier version of the Act, the district Collector had to ensure, on the basis of an affidavit by the seller, that she/he had sold the property of her/his own free will, and that she/he had got the fair market price for it.
  • However, there were reports of anti-social elements selling and buying properties after either threatening people or luring them with higher prices, in areas marked as “disturbed”.
  • It was reported that at times, these elements had got transfers done even without the Collector’s prior permission by getting the transfer deed registered under the provisions of The Registration Act, in which the Collector’s prior sanction under The DA Act was not required.
  • This had resulted in clustering or polarization of localities.
  • To plug such loopholes, and to increase the punishment for the violation of the Act as deterrence, the amendment Bill was presented and passed in the Gujarat Assembly in July last year.

Key features of the amendment

The main objective of the act is to check on elements that cause demographic imbalance and to stop polarization. The act will prohibit sale of property from one religious community to another religious community in the disturbed areas. An area can be declared disturbed area by the district collector based on a history of communal riots in the area. The transfer of assets cannot be done without the approval of the district collector.

What is the Disturbed Areas Act?

An area can be declared as a disturbed area by the district collector. It is decided based on the history of communal riots in that area. In the disturbed areas, transfer of assets cannot be done without the approval of the district collector. The disturbed area act of Gujarat is applicable to areas such as Vadodara, Surat, Godhra, Ahmedabad, Himmatnagar, Bharuch and kapadvanj, currently.

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