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Kashmir Act Gone, Land Buying Possible

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The J&K government on October 31 decided to declare all the actions taken under the Jammu and Kashmir State Land (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001, also known as the Roshni Act, under which 20 lakh kanals of land was to be transferred to existing occupants, as “null and void”, and has decided to retrieve the land within six months.

“The J&K government has decided to implement the High Court order, where it declared the Jammu and Kashmir State Land (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001 as amended from time to time as unconstitutional, contrary to law and unsustainable,” an official spokesperson said.

In an order issued by the J&K Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, with the approval of the Lieutenant Governor, the J&K government said it has found necessary that in order to implement the judgment passed by the High Court, “directions are required to be issued”.

The Principal Secretary, Revenue Department, has been asked to pass an order declaring all actions taken under the Act, as amended from time to time, and rules made thereunder, as void ab initio.

“He [the officer] shall ensure that all the mutations done in furtherance of the Roshni Act are annulled. He shall also work out a plan to retrieve the large tracts of State land vested under the Act, 2001 in a time bound manner. He shall also work out the modalities and plan to evict encroachers from such State land and retrieve it within a period of six months,” the order said.

The Principal Secretary, Revenue Department, shall work out modalities for handling the money received for these lands after annulment, it added.

According to the order, complete identities of all influential persons, including Ministers, legislators, bureaucrats, government officials, police officers, businessmen, etc., and their relatives or persons holding benami for them, who have derived benefit under the Act, will be made public. “The action shall be completed within a period of one month,” it added.

The Roshni Act was enacted during the Dr. Farooq Abdullah regime and targeted to earn ₹25,000 crore by transferring 20 lakh kanals of State land to existing occupants against payment at market rates. During the Ghulam Nabi Azad regime, the cut-off was relaxed to 2007. In 2014, the Comptroller and Auditor General estimated that only ₹76 crore had been realised from the transfer of encroached land between 2007 and 2013.

Courtesy – The Hindu

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