Karnataka Land Reforms Act 1961, 2020, 2023: Key Provisions and Implications Explained

Published on:
August 11, 2023

The Karnataka Land Reforms Act was introduced in 1961. Its main goal was to make sure that everyone could buy and own farmland in a fair way. The Act also laid out rules for giving ownership rights to the people who were renting the land, set limits on how much land one person could own, and gave rights to those who had been occupying the land for a long time.

Karnataka Land Reforms Act 1961

The Karnataka Land Reforms Act had some important points before it got changed. Let us break it down for you:

  • Section 63 of the Act stated the maximum amount of land someone could own.
  • Section 79A of the Act made it clear that people who are not farmers and earn more than 25 lakhs INR cannot buy agricultural land in Karnataka.
  • Section 79B of the Act allowed farmers and people connected to farming to buy and own agricultural land.
  • Section 79C of the Act set a penalty for those who falsely claim they own agricultural land. If anyone broke Sections 79A and 79B, the revenue department could investigate and take action against them.
  • Section 80 of the Act prevented the transfer of land to people who are not farmers.

So, basically, the law limited how much land one person could own, restricted non-farmers with a high income from buying agricultural land, and allowed those involved in farming to own such land. It also punished those who lied about owning agricultural land and prevented the transfer of land to non-farmers.

Karnataka Land Reforms Act 2020

In 2020, two important things happened:

First, during the Covid-19 pandemic, people began looking for alternatives to traditional real estate that could benefit them in the long term while also being fruitful in the present. Farmland, which brings you closer to nature and all things organic, became an attractive option.

Secondly, the Karnataka government listened to the concerns of city-dwellers and made changes to the Karnataka Land Reforms Act 1961 which was strict enough to not allow non-agricultural people to own agricultural land. But with the new changes, these restrictions were eased which meant that now anyone, whether an individual or an institution, can own farmland in Karnataka. This change was much-needed and has opened up opportunities for people to invest in farmland.

That’s how the concept of managed farmlands took birth!

Now, let's talk about the important changes made to the Act, which have made it easier to buy and own agricultural land by lifting certain restrictions.

Section 63 Amendment

The limit on owning and purchasing agricultural land has been raised from 10 units to 20 units. This new threshold applies to individuals who are not part of a family or do not have a family, as well as families with 4 members. If a family has more than 5 members, they are allowed an extra 4 units of land for each additional member, but the maximum limit cannot exceed 40 units. To give you an idea, 1 unit of land is equal to approximately 5.4 acres.

Sections 79A, 79B, & 79C Repealed

One of the most important changes to the Karnataka Land Reforms Act involves the removal of certain sections. Previously, there were strict limitations on purchasing and possessing agricultural lands, specifically for companies or individuals not involved in farming. However, this restriction has now been lifted. Non-agriculturists with an annual income exceeding INR 25 lakhs are now allowed to buy and own agricultural land in Karnataka.

Sections 80 & 81 Amendment

In the past, there were rules that prohibited non-agricultural entities and people not involved in farming from buying agricultural land. However, those restrictions have been lifted. Now, anyone can purchase agricultural land, regardless of their occupation or affiliation. But, there are still some limitations in place when it comes to transferring certain types of agricultural land.

For instance, Class A land that is irrigated using water from a dam can only be used for agricultural purposes. So, while some restrictions have been removed, there are still specific conditions to consider when dealing with certain types of agricultural land.

Section 80A Introduction

The new provision added to the Act ensures that changes made to the law will not impact people who are part of the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe communities. This safeguard was introduced under the Prohibition of Transfer of Certain Lands or the Karnataka SC/ST Act of 1978. As a result, agricultural land owned by individuals belonging to these communities will still be recognized as farmland, and they will not be affected by the amendments made to the Act.

Karnataka Land Reforms Act in 2023

In 2023, the Karnataka Land Revenue Act underwent an amendment that allowed individuals to convert agricultural land for nonagricultural use simply by submitting a self-declaration. This means that landowners no longer need complex procedures or approvals to use their agricultural land for non-farming purposes; they can do so by providing a straightforward statement of their intention.

But, according to the Times of India, there was no mention of the withdrawal of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act even though farmer activists were promised the same. Chamarasa Mali Patil, the honorary state president of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha mentioned, “The Land Reforms Act amendment in 2020 had turned into a pathway of channeling black money into land investment which in turn have been artificially inflating the price of land. At the time of writing this publication (7th Aug, ‘23), the budget still remains silent on the promised reforms.

Summary of Land Reforms in Karnataka

Section Number The Initial The Karnataka Land Reforms Act (1961) The Past The Karnataka Land Reforms Act (2020) The Present The Karnataka Land Reforms Act (2023) The Future
Section 63 Individuals can only hold up to 10 units* of agricultural land according to the new ceiling regulations The land ceiling for dry land has been raised from 54 acres to 108 acres, allowing individuals to own up to 20 units each. The limit for interest-free farm loans has been raised from ₹3 to ₹5 lakhs. Individuals with a passion for agriculture, regardless of their profession or income, from anywhere in the country, can purchase farmland in Karnataka and realize their dream of becoming landowners.
Section 79A Families with non-agricultural income exceeding 25 lakhs per year are not allowed to possess agricultural land. Section 79A has been removed, allowing land ownership for all individuals without any income restrictions.
Section 79B Ownership of agricultural land in Karnataka is exclusively restricted to individuals from farming families. Section 79B has been removed, allowing individuals from non-farming backgrounds across India to possess agricultural land in Karnataka.
Section 79C Penalties for falsely claiming ownership of agricultural land Repealed
Section 80 Non-farmers are not allowed to acquire agricultural land. The revised Section now suggests limitations on land transfer instead of an outright prohibition.

* One unit is equal to 5.4 acres

An Endnote On Land Reforms In Karnataka

The state of Karnataka owns a vast area of around 98.95 Lakh hectares that can be used for agriculture and farming. However, a significant portion of this land remained unused because of restrictions imposed by the Land Reforms Act.

But there's good news! An amendment made to the act in 2020 has resulted in freeing up about 40,000 acres of land and returning it to its rightful owners. This change opens up new opportunities for investing in agriculture and crop production.

The impact of this amendment is twofold:

  • Firstly, it enables the state to meet the growing demand for food supplies as the population increases. With more land available for cultivation, there will be a boost in food grain production for both domestic consumption and agricultural exports.
  • Secondly, this positive development is expected to have a significant effect on Karnataka's economy. The increased agricultural activity will contribute to the state's GDP and generate income within the agricultural sector.

In summary, the amendment to the Land Reforms Act in Karnataka has unlocked unused land for agriculture, leading to more crop production to meet the population's food needs and positively impacting the state's economy.

On the other hand, claims of rising artificial inflation and the farmers’ protest in August 2020 have pushed farmer activists to submit an appeal to the Siddaramaiah government to redact or change the Karnataka Land Reforms Act.

As of Aug 7, 2023, the government budget session has been silent on any future reformation of the Act.

Karnataka Land Reforms Act FAQs

1. What is the new Land Reform Act in Karnataka?

In 2020, the Karnataka Land Reforms Act saw significant changes. The limit on owning and buying agricultural land has been raised from 10 to 20 units, but only for individuals not part of a family or with no family, and for families with four members.

2. What is Section 79 and 80 of the Karnataka Land Reform Act?

Here’s what Sections 79 and 80 of the Karnataka Land Reform Act states:
  • Certain people are prohibited from owning agricultural land under Section 79B.
  • Not declaring ownership may result in penalties under Section 79C.
  • Transferring land to non-agriculturists is not allowed according to Section 80.
  • 3. What is Section 61 of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act 1961?

    Section 61 of the Reforms Act prohibits any mortgage or transfer for 15 years from the grant date. The first part of Section 61 includes a non-obstante clause.

    4. How many acres of land can a person own in Karnataka?

    The change allows each person or a family of four to have 108 acres and larger families to have 216 acres.

    5. What is Section 25 of Karnataka Land Reforms Act?

    Section 25 ensures the Revenue Court retains its inherent power to make orders essential for justice and to prevent misuse of its processes, unaffected by this Act's limitations.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    1. How much does 1 acre of land cost in Bangalore?
    1 acre in Bangalore could cost around 55-60 lakhs.
    2. Is it good to buy agricultural land in Bangalore?
    100%! Agricultural land in Bangalore is a dream come true, given the area, location, and the returns offered at your investment.
    3. Which area is best for agriculture in Karnataka?
    Naganpally is considered to be a prime location for an investment considering the attractions in its close vicinity amongst others such as Gulbarga, Belagavi, Tumakuru, Raichur, Vijayapura, Bagalkot, etc.
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