Land laws in HP are restrictive for outsiders, but not inhibitive : The Tribune India

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Land laws in HP are restrictive for outsiders, but not inhibitive

Even as J&K considers following the HP domicile model, it is pertinent to not lose sight of the fact that Section 118 is flexible. It allows non-agriculturists and outsiders to buy land, though with govt permission

Land laws in HP are restrictive for outsiders, but not inhibitive

Most Himachalis feel Section 118 should not even be diluted, let alone repealed



Pratibha Chauhan in Shimla

Himachal Pradesh has been often equated with J&K in terms of its restrictive land laws, but there are ample provisions facilitating the purchase of land in the hill state for specific purposes like residential, agricultural, commercial or industrial.


Our land laws are not discriminatory

The purchase or leasing out of land to investors in any sector has been simplified and rules have been amended to expedite the process. So it would be wrong to say that our land laws are in any way discriminatory or inhibit investors— Jai Ram Thakur, himachal CM

The Bona fide (Domicile) Policy, 1972, of the state extends privileges to those residing in Himachal for up to 20 years. At the same time, Section 118 of the HP Tenancy and Land Reform Act, 1972, is in no way inhibiting investment, especially in industry, tourism, hydro-power and other sectors.

Given that the majority of permanent residents consider Section 118 sacrosanct and in the interest of the state and its people, both the BJP and the Congress are unwilling to tinker with it. The law was brought by Himachal’s first chief minister, Dr YS Parmar, to protect the scarce and precious land from being bought by wealthy outsiders, which would have rendered many residents landless. No wonder, most Himachalis feel Section 118 should not even be diluted, let alone repealed.

Section 118 echoed in Parliament when Article 370 was repealed in J&K. Former Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi termed it discriminatory and stressed on the need to abolish it.

Section 118 rules are flexible and allow the purchase of built-up structures or land by bonafide residents (including non-agriculturists Himachalis) both in rural and urban areas. They can buy up to four acres for horticulture or agriculture, 500 sqm for residential, and 300 sqm for commercial purpose with permission from the Revenue Department. Even people from outside the state can buy built-up structure or land with permission from the government. Such cases go to the Cabinet for approval.

“The purchase or leasing out of land to investors in any sector has been simplified and rules have been amended to expedite the process. So it would be wrong to say that our land laws are in any way discriminatory or inhibit investors,” asserts HP Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur. Successive regimes have made amendments in land laws to simplify cumbersome rules and encourage investment.

Nevertheless, many realtors and individuals circumvent the strict laws, leading to benami land transactions where a permanent resident’s name is used to buy land by an outsider. The government had set up a one-man inquiry commission, comprising Justice DP Gupta, on benami land deals but successive regimes have failed to act upon its recommendations.


Definition of a bona fide Himachali in policy (August 18, 1972)

  • A person who has a permanent home in Himachal, residing in HP for a period of 15 years or above or having his permanent home in HP but living outside on account of his occupation. Later, the 15-year condition was enhanced to 20 years.
  • Non-Himachali women, when married to a Himachali bonafide resident, will be eligible for a bona fide certificate. On February 22, 2017, the government made a modification that says a Himachali woman married outside the state would not lose her permanent domicile.
  • Children of government employees are not automatically eligible for grant of domicile unless they are eligible.

Domicile policy for land purchase for bona fide Himachalis

As per Rule 38(A) of HP Tenancy and Land Reform Rules, 1975, one can apply under Section 118(2)(h) for buying land:

  • For horticulture/agriculture purpose:
    Four acres in rural areas.
  • For building/residential house: Up to 500 sqm but not less than 150 sqm, for shops 300 sqm. (This applies to those working in Himachal since the enactment of Land Tenancy Act, or working in in the state for more than 30 years or employees having bonafide certificate )
  • Anybody, both non-agriculturist Himachalis as well as outsiders, can purchase flat or land from a government agency of HP Urban Development Authority (HIMUDA) without any permissions.

Conditions in place

  • The person from whom you purchase land should not be rendered landless/houseless.
  • The land bought has to be put to use within two years, extendable by one year. Else, it will vest in the government.

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