A division bench of Karnataka High Court comprising of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Ashok S Kinagi issued a notice to the state government while hearing a petition which challenges the constitutional validity of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 promulgated on July 13th, 2020, filed by journalist Nagaraj Sheshappa Hongal.
The High Court directed the respondent to file their statement of objection by the next hearing date i.e. September 28th, 2020. The petition stated that “The Karnataka government has been attempting to defeat the very objective of the Land Reforms Act slowly, but deliberately. In 2015, the government has increased the non-agricultural land from Rs. 2 Lakh to Rs. 25 Lakh. This also opened the market of farmland in favor of a large number of affluent classes of people”. The petitioner urged the court to declare this ordinance as null and void since it amends Section 63 of the Karnataka Land Reform Act, 1961 and also at the same time it omits Section 79A, Section 79B, Section 79C of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961.
The Petitioner further said that the small and new generation of farmers is forced to go to cities due to inconsistency caused to them due to globalization. The forces who want to take away the agricultural land from Indian farmers will ultimately benefit from this amendment which is done through an ordinance. This amendment also eased the restrictions on buying agricultural land and the limit for holding agricultural land by a particular family. The ordinance has brought pressure on farmers to sell their land and no farmer could purchase agricultural land in near future due to highly imaginary agricultural investment, which would destroy the interest of farmers which is happening currently. The petitioner further argued that this ordinance will attract urban agricultural investments and a farmer cannot give a competition in the open market to buy farmland.