Bangalore: Karnataka Legislative Assembly on Friday passed a bill prohibiting grabbing of government land and up to three years jail for offenders.

The bill provides for measures to curb organised attempts to grab lands belonging to the government, Wakf or the Hindu religious institutions and charitable endowments, local authorities or other statutory or non-statutory bodies owned or controlled or managed by the Government.

According to The Karnataka Land Grabbing Prohibition Bill, 2011, the Government may, for the purpose of providing speedy enquiry into any alleged act of land grabbing, and trial of cases, by notification, constitute a special court.

Official sources said tens of thousands of such pieces of land had been grabbed in different parts of the state.

The final report of the Joint Legislature Committee on encroachment of government land in Bangalore Urban district headed by former MLA AT Ramaswamy stated that 45,000 acres of land worth a whopping Rs 50,000 crore had been grabbed.

With this law, land grabbing in any form is prohibited and declared unlawful.

Those who contravene provisions of the act -- as also those who commit other offences in connection with land grabbing -- shall, on conviction, be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one year, but which may extend to three years, and with fine which may extend to Rs 25,000.

Piloting the bill, Urban Development and Law Minister S Suresh Kumar said the state had passed the Karnataka Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Bill 2007, but the Union Government suggested inclusion of lands belonging to Wakfs, Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments also – and they were incorporated in the present bill.

According to the bill, land grabbers are forming bogus cooperative housing societies or setting up fictitious claims and indulging in large-scale, unprecedented and fraudulent sale of such lands through unscrupulous real estate dealers or otherwise in favour of certain sections of people resulting in large accumulation of unaccounted wealth and quick money to land grabbers.

In the legislative measure, the land grabber was defined as a person or a group of persons, society, builder, land developer who commits/has committed land grabbing. It includes any person who gives financial aid to any person for taking illegal possession of lands or for construction of unauthorised structures thereon, or who collects or attempts to collect from any occupiers of such lands rent, compensation and other charges by criminal intimidation, or who abets the doing of any of the above mentioned acts; and also includes the successors in interest.