Shutdown in KashmirApprox Read Time: 3 min
- On October 26, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announced several amendments to land laws for the Union Territory of Jammu Kashmir (J&K).
- As per the MHA notification, the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of Central Laws) Third Order, 2020 came into force immediately.
- The amendments were related to the sections of the J&K Land Revenue Act, 1996 and the J&K Development Act of 1970.
- The 1970 Act deals with zonal development plans determining land use for public buildings, roads, housing recreation, industry, business, markets, schools, hospitals and public and private open spaces.
- The 1996 Act is related to the management of agricultural land.
About: New Changes to land laws in J&K UT
- The new laws will now allow any Indian citizen to purchase non-agricultural land in the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
- These rules have also removed the need for being a domicile or having a permanent resident certificate for the purchase of land in J&K.
- The modified law disallows sale as well as gift or exchange of agricultural land to a non-agriculturist (person not engaged in agriculture). However, the law has certain exemptions through which such a transfer can be permitted.
- The government can allow the transfer of agricultural land to a public trust for charitable work, healthcare, education, industrial or commercial purposes.
- A newly-formed revenue board will notify the detailed procedure and fix the fee for conversion of agricultural land to non-agricultural purposes.
Land for Strategic purpose:
- On the written request of an Army officer not below the rank of Corps Commander, the government can declare an area as a “strategic area”.
- This land can be used for direct operational and training requirements of armed forces.
Jammu and Kashmir Industrial Development Corporation:
- The amendments also create the Jammu and Kashmir Industrial Development Corporation for establishing commercial centres and industries in the UT.
- The Corporation will consist of twelve directors, four of whom could be nominated from the private sector with experience in industry or trade or finance.
- The Corporation will have the power to acquire movable and immovable property, and to lease, sell, exchange or transfer any property held by it.
- If the Corporation is unable to acquire land by an agreement, the government can order proceedings under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 and acquire the land for public purpose.
- No legal suit can be filed against officials of the Corporation without a prior notice of two months and not later than six months from the date of complaint.
Amendments related to government land holdings:
- The Jammu and Kashmir Land Grants Act, 1960, which regulates grant of government land on lease will now be extended to the entire Union Territory of J&K.
- It earlier applied only to urban areas of Jammu, Srinagar and towns.
- The amendment also removes the permanent resident clause to get government land on lease for “residential purposes”.
Abolition of Roshni Act:
- The J&K government has also 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, as “null and void”.
- The decision comes three weeks after the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, declared the Roshni Act, as unconstitutional and unsustainable.
About: Roshni Act
- The Roshni Act was enacted to transfer around 20 lakh kanals of State land to existing occupants against payment at market rates. A kanal is a traditional unit of land area.
- It was hoped that the legislation would help to boost the farming sector and generate substantial revenue for funding power projects across the state, due to which it was named “Roshni”.
- The government had target to earn Rs 25,000 crore through the scheme.
Issues with Roshni Act:
- In 2014, a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) estimated that against the targeted Rs 25,000 crore, only Rs 76 crore had been made from the transfer of encroached land between 2007 and 2013.
- The report blamed irregularities including arbitrary reduction in prices to benefit politicians and affluent (rich) people.
- The J&K government has decided to retrieve (take back) the land transferred under the Act, within six months.
- According to the order, complete identities of all the people who have derived benefit under the Act, will be made public.
- The High Court has also ordered a CBI probe into the irregularities in the land scheme and directed the agency to file a status report every eight weeks.