Bills and Acts in Current Affairs 2017

Real Estate Act comes into effect

The Real Estate Act which aims to protect the interests of homebuyers by ensuring transparency has come into effect. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA) has asked all the states and Union Territories to implement the Act with letter and spirit. Since land is a state subject, real estate sector comes within the ambit of the state governments.

The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2016 was passed by Parliament in March last year. Partially, the act came into force on 1 May last year with 59 of 92 notified sections of the act coming into force. The remaining provisions have come into the force now. Already the act has been notified by 13 states and Union Territories including Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Delhi, Daman and Diu.

Salient Provisions

Buyers and developers of real estate property can seek relief by approaching Real Estate Regulatory Authorities against violation of the contractual obligations and other provisions of the Act.

The act provides for the mandatory registration of projects and real estate agents.

The act mandates depositing 70% of the funds collected from buyers in a separate bank account for construction of the project. The funds could be withdrawn only for construction purposes.

The act prescribes penalty on developers if the project is delayed. The project developers are required to disclose the project details on the website of the regulator and need to provide quarterly updates on construction progress.

Under the act, the Regulatory authorities are required dispose of complaints in 60 days and Appellate Tribunals will be required to adjudicate cases in 60 days.

Significance

The act will ensure transparency and accountability in the real estate sector. It will enhance the consumer confidence and will benefit the whole sector. It will help to attract more investments into the real estate sector and may also open gates for FDI. This act will aid in the effective implementation of projects such as Hosing for All by 2020 and Smart City.

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Agriculture Ministry unveils model APMC Act

In order to give more freedom to farmers to sell their produce, the agriculture ministry has unveiled “The State/UT Agricultural Produce and Livestocks Marketing (promotion and facilitation) Act, 2017” which has defined each state/UT as a single unified market area. The draft law is proposed to overhaul the existing laws.

So far 26 states and Union Territories, including Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, have fully or partly modified their APMC laws. Other than Bihar, all other states/UTs have agreed to adopt the model Act.

Salient Highlights

The model act proposes to curb the role of APMC mandis. The existing APMC mandis are allowed to enforce regulation only in their market yard and thus encouraging private sector players to set up mandis. Traders would be able to transact in all markets within a state by paying a single fee.

The model law on agricultural marketing would introduce features like single market within a state, private wholesale markets, direct sale by farmers to bulk buyers, and promotion of electronic trading etc.

As agricultural marketing is a state subject and is governed by their respective Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Acts, the states are free to adopt portions or the entire model act. The state governments as per the draft law are required to appoint an independent entity ‘director of agricultural marketing’ who would function as a sole authority to grant the licence for the establishment of a new market yard in the state concerned.

The new Act proposes to put a cap on mandi taxes at 1% for foodgrain and 2% for fruits and vegetables as well as commission agent’s levy at 2% of the total transaction cost.

Need

Due to the monopoly of APMCs, farmers do not have a choice to sell their farm produce to multiple buyers. The model act will provide several marketing channels to sell agricultural produce. The model act aims to liberalize trade in farm produce and aid better price realization for farmers.

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