Updated: Oct 24, 2020
Author: Komal Verma from Fairfield Institute Of Management and technology, Content Writer
What is the Disturbed Areas Act?
Under the Disturbed Area Act, a district collector can notify a particular area of a city or town as a “disturbed area”. This notification is generally done based on the history of communal riots in the area.The transfer of immovable property in the disturbed area can take place only after the Collector expressly signs off on an application made by the buyer and the seller of the property. Violation of the Act’s provisions invites imprisonment and a fine. The state government claims it is aiming to check communal polarization of various parts of the state through the Act.
About the Act:
· The act was first introduced in Ahmedabad in 1986.
A that time, due to large scale and continuous riots in Ahmedabad city, a number of areas started witnessing distress sale of properties mainly by people of a particular community.
To check that, the then Gujarat government had brought in an ordinance. Later, it was converted into the DA Act in 1991.
The DA Act is applicable in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Himmatnagar, Godhra, Kapadvanj and Bharuch.
Why in News
The President has given his assent to a Bill passed by the Gujarat Assembly in 2019, which made some amendments to the ‘Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provisions of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas Act, 1991’ - popularly known as the ‘Disturbed Areas (DA) Act’. State minister Pradeepsinh Jadeja said on Monday, adding that the amended law would stop polarisation and keep a check on attempts to cause any “demographic imbalance”. The Act bans sale of property by members of one religious community to those from another community without the prior approval of the district collector in areas declared as “disturbed areas”.
The bill was brought by the BJP government last year to amend the ‘The Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provision for Protection of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas Act’, 1991, commonly referred to as the Disturbed Areas Act.
The government had added some stringent provisions amid complaints from people that the current act was unable to curb the illegal sale or transfer of their properties in such notified disturbed areas.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.
This Act has been in force in some communally sensitive areas of the state, including in Ahmedabad and Vadodara.
More Powers to the Collector: To ascertain if there is a likelihood of “polarisation” or “improper clustering” of persons belonging to a particular community, thus disturbing the demographic equilibrium in the area.
· For probing these aspects, the formation of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) has also been envisaged.
Review Power to the State: The state government is authorised to review a decision taken by the Collector.
Advisory Committee: Enables the state government to form an advisory committee that will advise it on various aspects of the DA Act, including adding new areas to the ‘disturbed areas’ list.
Disturbed Area: The government can notify any area as a ‘disturbed area’ where it sees the possibility of a communal riot, or where it sees the possibility of a particular community’s polarisation.
· To check the registration of transfer of properties in disturbed areas without the Collector’s prior approval, the amended Act has a provision to enlarge the scope of the term ‘transfer’, and include transfer of right, title or interest in or over such property in disturbed areas by way of sale, gift, exchange, and lease.
· The Act has amended the Registration Act under which no property in disturbed areas can be registered without prior sanction of the Collector.
· Redevelopment of the Property is allowed only if it is for the owner’s purpose. But if the owner is planning to bring new people on the redeveloped property, she/he has to take the permission of the Collector.
Non-Applicability: The provisions of the Act will not be applicable to the government’s rehabilitation schemes in a disturbed area, where it resettles displaced people.
Penal Provisions: The amendment has increased the punishment to imprisonment between three and five years. The fine has also been increased to Rs. 1 lakh, or 10% of the jantri rate (ready reckoner of property prices in different parts of the state) of the property, whichever is higher.
· The punishment for the violation of the Act was earlier imprisonment for six months and fine up to Rs.10,000.
Under the amended Act, the collector can now check if there is any “likelihood of polarisation”, “disturbance in demographic equilibrium” or any “likelihood of improper clustering of persons of a community” if the transfer takes place.
The collector can reject the application of transfer after making an assessment on these grounds, said the release, adding that the aggrieved person can now file an appeal with the state government against the collector’s order.
The act also empowers the state government to form a “monitoring and advisory committee” to keep a check on the demographic structure in the disturbed areas.