Process to retrieve Roshni land set in motion

Greater Kashmir

After declaring the Roshni Act null and void, the government of Jammu and Kashmir has begun the process to retrieve land which was vested under the act.

Officials informed that the revenue department has directed all tehsildars to start the retrieval process of the land vested under Jammu and Kashmir State Land (Vesting of Ownership to the occupants) Act, 2001— popularly known as Roshni Act— in the areas falling under their jurisdiction.

Earlier, the High Court of J&K had declared the law as unconstitutional. In its order, the HC had noted that a total of 6,04,602 kanals (75,575 acres) of state land had been regularised and transferred to the occupants. This, according to the order, included 5,71,210 kanals (71,401 acres) in Jammu and 33,392 kanals (4174 acres) in the Kashmir province.

The government recently in a statement said that Principal Secretary to Government, Revenue Department shall work out the modalities and plan to evict encroachers from such state land and retrieve the state land within a period of six months.

The Principal Secretary shall also work out modalities for “handling the money received for these lands after annulment,” it said.

Meanwhile, Principal Secretary, Revenue, Pawan Kotwal has issued an order which reads: “All the actions taken under the Jammu and Kashmir State Land (Vesting of Ownership to the occupants) Act, 2001 as amended from time to time and rules made there under are declared void ab-initio. All the mutations attested/done in furtherance of the said Act are hereby annulled and the involved land is deemed to have escheated to the State/Government.”

“The respective Tehsildars shall pass detailed orders in light of the directions of the High Court and make necessary entries in the revenue records to give effect to the directions passed by the High Court. This escheated State land shall be retrieved by the respective Tehsildars. The large tracts of state land shall be retrieved in the first instance, followed by retrieval of small patches and all the land.”

The divisional commissioners of Jammu and Kashmir shall constitute a dedicated cell in their offices and monitor the progress of the action taken in pursuance to the government order, the order reads.

The J&K government on October 31 decided to declare all the actions taken under the Roshni Act, 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 had said.

The Roshni Act was enacted during the Dr. Farooq Abdullah regime and targeted to earn Rs 25,000 crore by transferring 20 lakh kanals of State land to existing occupants against payment at market rates.

In 2014, the Comptroller and Auditor General estimated that only Rs 76 crore had been realized from the transfer of encroached land between 2007 and 2013.