Land Ordinance Unconstitutional
The Centre's decision approving the Ordinance amending the Land Acquisition Act 2013, even before the law has been actually implemented on the ground is completely unacceptable and reminds people of the anti democratic and authoritarian streak of this government. In six months of its existence the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has already used the Ordinance route three times.

It's difficult to understand what is the Emergency at this moment that, NDA government has to take the Ordinance route. This is only being done as a measure to benefit the Corporate Houses and nothing else. The land acquisition act, 1894 was amended precisely to resolve the conflict due to forcible land acquisition, give farmers their due and meet the needs of the industrial development. Modi's Land Ordinance will only increase that conflict since large scale forcible land acquisition for the industrial corridors will be norm. Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor alone has plan for acquisition of 3,90,000 Hectares of land. Industrial Corridors, big infrastructure projects, dams etc cause the maximum displacement and environmental damage and the new land Act was to address situations arising out of that.

It is a disguised Ambani-Adani Sarkaar—a Company Sarkaar,which is out to sell the democratic rights of the people and democratic traditions of law making in the Parliament in the name of business. The new Act was framed after consulting all the stake holders and over a period of seven years after going through two Parliamentary Standing committees (2007 & 2009), both headed by senior BJP leaders, Shri Kalyan Singh and Smt Sumitra Mahajan. Mr Modi has displayed least patience for the parliamentary traditions and often remained silent on the key issues concerning the nation and blamed opposition for non-functioing of the Parliament. Matters concerning the lives of millions of the farmers in this country can't and shouldn't be decided by mere Ordinance. These are matters of grave importance and need thorough debate and discussion in this democracy. BJP when in opposition had opposed the Ordinances for law making and now they are doing exactly that, how shameful!

The government is claiming the decision is not anti-farmer since they are not touching the monetray compensation, but the issue was not only compensation. A piece of land has an interest from many sections—workers, share croppers—other than the land owners and they all get affected by any acquisition. So, the changes in the consent clause for acquisition of the PPP and Private projects will impact everyone and not only the land owners. The explanation that an Ordinance became necessary to deal with matters arising out of the Section 105 of the Act is completely false. It is not only misleading but again obfuscating what the Act mandates. As per the Act, the government was to bring a Notification in the Parliament in year 2014 to extend the provisions of the compensation and R&R to the people affected by land acquisition carried, through the 13 central acts, as mentioned in Fourth Schedule.

The dilution of the need for the consent and conducting of the Social Impact Assessment for all the projects is completely uncalled for and will only make matters worse. These two provisions are central to addressing the issue of 'forced land acquisition' and 'resulting impoverishment" to the communities.
NAPM, December 29, 2014

‘Save Democracy’
The 'Save Democracy" Forum, a recently floated organization, launched its first programme outside Kolkata on 21 December. Asim Chatterjee, the veil-known Naxalite leader of yesteryears and political commentator, who is the convener of the Forum, took the initiative. A large procession ended in a rally at the Bolpur Railway Maidan. The rally, a fairly well-attended one, was addressed by Samir Patitunda (the leader of the PDS), Ashoke Gangopadhyay (ex-Justice, Supreme Court), Suananda Sanyal (educationist), Asokenath Basu (ex-Vice Chancellor, Jadavpur University), Hasim Abdul Halim (ex-Speaker, West Bengal Assembly), Sikha Mitra, (former TMC MLA), Bikash Bhattacharya ( well-known lawyer), Abdul Mannan, Congress leader), etc. All the speakers, citing various examples, strongly denounced the present Trinamul Congress Government for its corrupt practices, suppression of all dissent, torture, rape and murder of women and the despotic attitude of the Chief Minister. One speaker told the audience that he had joined this Forum in order to make amends for past wrongs.

It is noteworthy that the local CPI(M) leaders actively participated in the preparation of the rally, and quite a few past and present Naxalite faces, including the local Naxalite leader Sailen Misra, were also seen, along with some female activists. The main two demands of the Forum, as Asim Chatterjee explained in his inaugural speech, was the establishment of peace as against terror, and the rule of law as against the current lawless violence. It is also significant that the effort is independent of both the Trinamui Congress and the BJP, indicating that a broad-based platform that is opposed both to the TMC-backed terror and the BJP-sponsored Hindutva is gradually making its emergence.
A Reader, Bolpur

Irrational Postal Tariffs
It refers to Office Memorandum No. 36-71/2001-BD & MD dated 06.06.2006 which mentions that Service-Tax/Education Cess would be charged only on Speed Post (including Speed Post Gold) and Express Parcel Post while all other postal-services will remain exempted from these taxes and cess.

It is absolutely ridiculous that differentiation may be done in respect of imposing Service Tax and Education Cess only on Speed Post and Express Parcel Post. Notably all other postal-services are exempted from levy of Service Tax and Education Cess. Otherwise also it is like money going from one pocket to another when both Department of Revenue and Department of Posts are part of same Union Government with even Union Budget accounting for postal-tariffs and profit/loss account of Department of Post. Department of Revenue should abolish Service Tax and Education Cess even on Speed Post and Express Parcel Post. All postal-services including even Speed Post and Express Parcel Post should be at par for not levying Service Tax and Education Cess.

Department of Revenue should take up matter of revenue-leakage with Department of Posts when Speed Post tariffs are irrationally fixed by Department of Posts with some tariff-slabs of Speed Post being less than tariff-slabs for same weight of ordinary mail. For example mail-article weighing 200 gms sent by local Speed Post costs (including Service Tax and Education Cess) rupees 25, while same if mailed by ordinary mail costs rupees 50. Speed Post tariffs should be fixed for equal tariff-rise for every equal weight-slab of 50 gms each preferably to be same for local and non-local Speed Post service.
Madhu Agrawal, New Delhi

Film Censoring
The Central Board of Film Certification has refused a screening certificate to Babu Eshwar Prasad's Kannada movie "Gaalibeeja" (Wind Seed). The stated reason is that the censors could not understand whether "Gaalibeeja" was a documentary or a feature and that it lacked technical polish.

In truth the job of film censors is to see that films which go against any of the country's laws, are not screened publicly. It is not for a censor to decide what is or is not a film, howsoever defined -- and here, of course, no kind of definition is offered. The Censor Board is not a quality assurance outfit either. Do the censors want to prevent film makers and film viewers from wasting their (not the censors') money?
Mukul Dube
Mayui Vihar 1, Delhi

Vol. 47, No. 28, Jan 18 - 24, 2015