Purchase of agricultural land involves compliance of various statues, in addition to the regular usual Acts such as Transfer of Property Act, Registration Act, Stamps Act, Indian Contract Act, etc.There are various restrictions on sale/purchase of agricultural land, which are imposed in Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961; Karnataka Land Grant Rules 1969, Karnataka Village Officers’ Abolition Act, 1961; Karnataka Land Revenue Act 1961; BDA Act 1976 and Land Acquisition Act (Central) 1976.

These restrictions on purchase/sale of agricultural lands are applicable only in Karnataka, and many other states do not have such restrictions.We shall now first look at the words agricultural lands, agriculture, agricultural labour and agriculturalist, and better know about each of them.

Agriculture: The word Agriculture encompasses aquaculture (fishery), horticulture, raising of crops, grass, garden products, dairy farming, poultry farming, breeding of live stock (animal husbandry), grazing.

Agricultural  lands:  Any land which is used and capable of being used for any of the above purpose is an agricultural land. Agricultural land does not include house sites or land used exclusively for non-agricultural purpose.Verification of revenue records is necessary to ascertain whether the land is agricultural land or not.

Agriculturist : A person who cultivates land personally, that by himself or by the members of his family or by hired labourers/servants under his personal supervision or of his family member, is an agriculturist.Wages to the servants/labourers should not be in the form of share in the crops, but may be paid in the form of kind or cash.

Agricultural Labourer: A person who lives mainly on the earnings out of manual labour on agricultural land including the one who prepares agricultural implements is an agricultural labourer.

Karnataka Land reforms Act 1961, has put certain ceilings on agricultural land holdings per family/per person.  Family includes, the individual, wife or wives, minor sons and unmarried daughters. The ceiling is Ten units.  If the family comprises more than five members, an additional two  units pr every member in excess of five is allowed subject to maximum of 20 units.  In case of tenant, it is 40 units.

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The area of unit differs with the class of the land. Land is classified into 4 classes based on irrigation facilities.

‘A’ class lands: Land having assured irrigated facilities from government canal, government tanks by which two crops of paddy or one crop of sugarcane can be cultivated in a year is ‘A’ class lands. 1.3 acres of ‘A’ class land is one unit.

‘B’ class lands: Lands with assured irrigation from government canal, government tank by which only one crop of paddy can be cultivated or lands irrigated by lift irrigation project of state government by which two crops of paddy or one crop of sugarcane can be cultivated in a year is a ‘B’ class land. 2.5 acres of ‘B’ class land is one unit.

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‘C’ class lands: Lands irrigated from government sources of irrigation including lift irrigation, but not ‘A’ or ‘B’ class lands, rainfed lands where paddy or areca crop is grown, or lands irrigated by lifting the water from government canal, government tanks but the pumping installation is provided by the land owner is ‘C’ class land.  3 acres of ‘C’ class land is comprises one unit.

‘D’ class lands: Lands classified as dry but not having irrigation facilities from government source is ‘D’ class lands.  5.4 acres of ‘D’ class lands is one unit.

Holding the agricultural land beyond the ceiling limit is not allowed. Likewise disposing of land held in excess of ceiling limit is also not allowed unless declarations are filed which are referred to land tribunals.Apart from the ceiling on holding the agricultural lands, the Karnataka Land Reforms Act 1961 has put certain restrictions on the purchaser.

As per Section 79-A of Karnataka Land Reforms Act 1961, any person or family or joint family having income not less than Rs.2.00 lakhs per year from non-agricultural source is not eligible to acquire any agricultural land in any capacity as landlord, tenant, land owner, mortgagee. Further, according toSection 79-B of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961, any person other than one cultivating the land personally is not eligible to hold agricultural land. One should be an agriculturist before 01/03/1974.

Similarly, even for sale of agricultural land, including the sale in execution of a decree of a civil court, or for recovery of arrears of land revenue, gift, exchange, lease is not lawful to a person who is not an agriculturist or agricultural  labourer or to a person who holds the land in excess of ceiling limits, in terms of Section 80 of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961.

Karnataka Land Grant Rules 1969 deals with agricultural lands granted by the Government. The grantee is not allowed to sell the land for a period of 15 years from the date of taking possession of the land. There after only with the permission of the government, such lands could be sold.In case of lands granted to the members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, either the alienation or conveyance of such land is totally prohibited, and if any sort of alienation or conveyance  takes place, the ownership shall revert back to the government.

Usage of the agricultural lands for any purpose other than agriculture is not allowed unless it is converted for non-agricultural purpose with the permission of the concerned authority/government and also on payment of prescribed conversion fee/charges.In case of lands, where occupancy has been granted by the Tribunal under Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961, sale of such land is not allowed for a period of 15 years from the date of the certificate of occupancy.

Similarly, restrictions on alienation of agricultural land exist in case of inam lands, agricultural lands conferred under the provisions of Karnataka Village Officers’ Act, 1961, land under notification of Land Acquisition Act, BDA Act.

Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961 has exempted certain lands from the provisions of Section 63, 79-A, 79-B and 80, where the land is used for:

(1) Industrial development, where it will not exceed 20 units.

(2)Recognized educational institutions to be used for non- agricultural purposes not exceeding 4 units.

(3)Places of worship specified by government notification used for non-agricultural purpose not exceeding one unit.

(4)Housing Projects approved by state government where it will not exceed 10 units.

(5)Land used for horticulture, floriculture, agro based industries where it will not exceed 20 units.

However, these exemptions are subject to provisions of Karnataka Town and Country planning Act, 1961 and rules as may be prescribed by the State Government.

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The Purchaser should thoroughly examine various other aspects and avail the services of an Advocate well versed in property matters particularly agricultural land, before purchasing agricultural land.If the purchase is not an agriculturist, it is advisable to insist on conversion of land to non-agricultural purpose, before purchase.


Advocate Selvakumar

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