June 20, 2021: Indian citizens, who are looking to purchase agricultural land in the country, have to confirm that there are no disputes or legal hassles and a smooth process of registration. However in the land of diversity, the guidelines and rules regarding buying of agricultural land vary from state to state. So, you need know in detail about agricultural land laws in India.
Buying land in India
While in some states like Telangana, anyone can buy agricultural land, regardless of whether or not they are farmers, in other states, like Karnataka, only registered farmers or those from farming families can buy agricultural land. Thus one needs detailed information about the agricultural land laws in India and should know the rules in the states before buying agricultural land.
Agricultural land laws in India across different states
Interestingly, various states follow different procedures for the purchase of agricultural land. In that case, it is paramount that one knows in detail about the agricultural land laws in India across different states before any purchase. In some states, only an agriculturist can purchase such land whereas there are no restrictions in other states.
In the state, there are no restrictions for those looking at investing in agricultural land. It is set that the maximum extent of land that can be purchased is 59.95 acres and it may be converted into non-agricultural land by the orders of the district collector after the purchase, provided that no agricultural activity has been carried out in the said land during the last 10 years (prior to the date of conversion).
The state comes with pre-set reservations. Only an agriculturist can purchase agricultural land in this state. A non-agriculturist is a person whose income from any source exceeds Rs. 25 lakh per annum (earlier the limit was Rs.2 lakh per annum). The Section 109 of Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964, hails that social or industrial organisations can purchase agricultural land with Government approval.
Another state with relaxations close to those of Tamil Nadu, anyone can purchase agricultural land here. The maximum ceiling limit of land area as per the Kerala Land Reforms Act, 1963 is as follows:
a) In case of an adult unmarried person or a family consisting of a sole surviving member, five standard acres and the ceiling limit shall not be less than six and more than seven-and-a-half acres.
b) For a family consisting of two or more but no more than five members, 10 standard acres and the ceiling limit shall not be less than 12 and more than 15 acres.
c) If it’s a family consisting of more than five members, 10 standard acres increased by one standard acre for each member in excess of five, and the ceiling limit shall not be less than 12 and more than 20 acres.
d) For any other person, other than a joint family, 10 standard acres and the ceiling limit shall not be less than 12 and more than 15 acres.
In Maharashtra, the agricultural land is purchasable by an agriculturist and if a person holds such land anywhere else in India, he can still be deemed an agriculturist in Maharashtra. The maximum ceiling limit for such land is 54 acres.
Here agricultural lands can’t be purchased by a non-agriculturist. Earlier, only those residing in the State could invest in agricultural land in Gujarat but in 2012 the Gujarat High Court passed a judgement that allows any agriculturist in the country to purchase such land in the State.
Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan
Buy land without restrictions here. Earlier, under Section 17 of the Imposition of Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings Act, 1973, there were certain ceiling limits on buying agricultural land from the ‘Khatedars’ in Rajasthan. The provisions of this section were amended in 2010 and people from other states can now purchase agricultural land here. But the aspirant must apply for conversion within a year from acquisition and commence the proposed non-agricultural use within three years from the date of conversion in Rajasthan.
Partially liberal, certain areas in the state of Haryana, have been declared ‘controlled areas’ and for those looking at purchasing agricultural land in these areas for non-agricultural purposes, they need to obtain a certificate indicating the change of land use from the Government of Haryana.
Restricted only to an agriculturist belonging to the State, who is fit to purchase agricultural land here. People from other states require prior permission of the Government of Himachal Pradesh u/s 118 of HP Tenancy and Land Reforms Act. The maximum land ceiling limit in is 160 bighas or 32 acres.
Going by the West Bengal Land Reforms Act, private ownership of agricultural land in the state is capped at 17.5 acres for irrigated areas and 24.5 acres for areas that are only rainfed. In urban areas, private ownership is capped at 7.5 cottahs or one-eighth of an acre. Only tea gardens, mills, workshops, livestock breeding firms, poultry farms, dairies, and townships are exempted from the restrictions of the Land Reforms Act.
Agricultural land laws in India: Technical details
Your knowledge of agricultural land laws in India would be incomplete if you don’t know the technicalities. Now let’s delve into the technicalities of acquiring an agricultural plot in agro-based India.
1. Title deed of the land plot
It is extremely essential that the title of the property confirms the seller’s name and also verifies whether the seller has an absolute right to sell the property. Thorough examination of the original present deed and previous deeds should be carried out by a lawyer, to verify that the seller has not allowed access to others through this land. If there is more than one person owning the land, it is important to have the release certificate from the other participants involved, before registering the documents.
2. Agreement for sale
Following the absolute verification of all the documents, a written agreement on the cost, advance payment and the time within which the actual sale will take place, is made. The agreement must be drawn by a lawyer and should be signed by both the parties and two witnesses.
Point to be noted in this step is that the agreement to sale document is the precursor to the sale deed. Based on the terms and conditions established in this document, the future deal is likely to proceed. Consequently, it becomes extremely crucial to set the terms carefully and go through each clause diligently to fully understand its implications, before the signing of the agreement to sell.
3. Stamp duty on the land
Stamp duties are government taxes and differ from state to state. A stamp duty paid shall be considered a legal document and can be admitted in court, as evidence.
4. Registration of the land
This step has the process by which a copy of a document is recorded and the title of the immovable property is transferred in the name of the buyer, at the registrar’s office. In compliance with the Indian Registration Act 1908, the deed should be registered at the sub-registrar’s office, within four months of the date of the execution of the document. Details such as original title deed, previous deeds, house tax receipts and two witnesses for registration of the property, should be provided in the document.
5. Conveyance deed or sale deed of the land
The sale deed is that document which transfers the title of the property, from the seller to the buyer. It proves vital to determine ownership of the property, where the property is located and the details such as site measurement, boundary details, etc.
6. Tax receipt and bills
The buyer should be well-versed with the latest property tax bills and can ask for the same at municipal offices. It is also to be ensured, that notices or requests relating to the property are not outstanding. Water, electricity are other bills, should be up to date.
7 .Encumbrance certificate
The encumbrance certificate can be procured from the sub-registrar’s office, for the last 13 or 30 years, to ensure that the land has no legal duties or complaints.
8. Measuring the land
The manual process has to be aided by a recognised surveyor who can ensure that the measurements of the plot and its boundaries are accurate and as indicated in the title certificate.
9. Changing the title of the land in the village office
The whole legal procedure for the purchase of the property is said to be finished, only if the name of the new owner is added to the village office record. This requires an application to be made to the village office, together with a copy of the registered deed.
10. Purchasing land from NRI land owners
This step concerns the out of India residents who own land in the country. Such a person can sell his or her land in India, by authorising a third party to sell the land on his or her behalf. In such cases, the power of attorney should be witnessed and duly signed by an officer in his province’s Indian embassy.
11. Converting agricultural land for non-agricultural use.
All plans regarding development for various uses which has to be undertaken in agricultural land is put on hault unless the agricultural land is converted into non-agricultural use. This can be achieved by an application form which has to be submitted to the concerned authorities, clarifying the reason behind conversion. The necessary documents like sale deed, tax paid receipt and mutation letter, have to be submitted with the application form, along with details like the dimensions and extent.
Depending on the property and locality, a fee should be paid for the land to be converted to non-agricultural purposes. The authorised person, like the deputy commissioner or the collector, will permit conversion of the land if the necessary conditions have been met and no litigation is pending. The land is declared non-agricultural land, after it receives the official conversion certificate. Primarily, during the process of finalising a property, buyers should check the previous land records and always buy it from a trusted and renowned developer.