KATHMANDU, Nov 20: The Supreme Court (SC) has referred the case of controversial ban by the government on the plotting and selling of agricultural land for a final hearing to be conducted within a month. During the hearing on the case on Sunday, the court also declined to vacate the stay order issued earlier against the government ban on the plotting and selling of agricultural land. Minister for Land Reforms and Management, Gopal Dahit had filed a plea at the SC, seeking to scrap the stay order issued by Chief Justice Gopal Parajuli three months ago.
Stating that there is a need to decide the case keeping in mind the right to property, food sovereignty and the larger interest of the country, a division bench of justices Anil Kumar Sinha and Sapana Malla issued the order following Sunday's hearing. “Since the process has already been completed as the government authorities have already submitted their written replies, it is suitable to submit the case for the final hearing within a month,” the bench ruled.
On August 9, Minister Dahit had issued a directive to various government authorities - land revenue offices, survey offices, municipalities and rural municipalities - to prevent the ongoing land plotting, arguing that it could decrease productive land and create a shortage of food in the future. Citing the Land Act 1963, the ministerial decision further stated that the decision had been taken on the basis of the principle that all the land in the country ultimately belongs to the state and not to any individual. The minister's plea had also urged the apex court to vacate its earlier stay order preventing the authorities from implementing the directive.
Stating that there shall not be any hindrance to the division of land while dividing parental property among family members and dividing plots according to court decisions, the government had only restricted the business of land plotting.
The directive has also defined 'agricultural land' where farmers harvest crops as defined by the Land (Measurement Act), 1963 and Land (Measurement) Rules, 2001.
Stating that the directive had violated the citizens' right to property, the apex court had stayed the directive on September 17, in response to a writ petition filed by advocate Jagadish Acharya. In his petition, Acharya had claimed that the minister's directive did not only infringe on the citizens' right to property but also encroached upon the fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution which allows the citizens to own, buy and sell land as individual assets.