SC directs to ratify land reforms

KATHMANDU: The Supreme Court today directed the government to strictly implement the land reform scheme introduced in 2001.

The government had introduced the scheme through the Fifth Amendment in the Land Reform Act, 2001.

A division bench of Justices Kalyan Shrestha and Sushila Karki issued a mandamus order to the government authorities -- the Office of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, Ministry of Land Reforms and Management and Department of Land Reforms and Management, including Land Reforms Offices in Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur -- to enforce the amendment.

The bench ordered the authorities to seize land from owners exceeding the ceiling and to distribute the same to landless freed Kamaiyas, Dalits, Janajatis as provisioned by the law. The bench also told them to furnish a progress report in the Supreme Court after the implementation of the Act.

According to Section 7 of the Act, a person can acquire land not exceeding 10 bighas in Tarai districts, 70 ropanis in hilly districts and 25 ropanis in Kathmandu Valley for agricultural purpose. For housing, the ceiling is one bigha in Tarai districts, 5 ropanis in both hilly districts and Kathmandu valley.

Similarly, a tenant can hire four bighas in Tarai, 10 ropanis in Kathmandu and 20 ropanis across the hilly districts as per Section 8 of the Act.

Accusing the government of not making efforts to implement the land scheme, despite the amendment, a Public Interest Litigation was lodged in the apex court on December 20, 2006 demanding its intervention.

The law also requires every landowner to furnish their property details. In the eight years of the law enforcement, it is yet to be done.