Where is Landholders’ Pass-book?

In spite of legal binding, DCs never prepared it !

We are aware of bank passbooks. This small booklet is givento an account holder while opening an account in any bank. The State RevenueDepartment was also supposed to provide passbooks to the landholders so as tokeep them aware about the amount of land they own, its location, its title,survey /khasra number etc. Section 16 of J&K Land Revenue (amended) Act of1996 calls upon land Revenue officers particularly the Deputy Commissioners(DCs) to ensure preparation of passbooks for every landholder of the district.The relevant section reads as :

"The Deputy Commissioner of the District shall cause to beprepared a passbook of every land holder in his District containing records ofrights, agricultural holding, transfer of rights, ration cards, subsidies,liabilities etc. in revenue estate to enable the land holder makes it use forcredit facilities and for other matters connected therewith or incidentalthereto."

The idea of making these passbooks was to ensuretransparency and accountability in maintaining land records, otherwise marredby corruption and mismanagement. Incorporating this provisions in J&K LandRevenue Act through an amendment in year 1996 was to provide for efficaciousand fool-proof mechanism in maintaining land record. This was also to ensurethat there is no illegal entry or alienation in these records by the officialsof the revenue department. Through these passbooks landowners or farmers couldhave availed credit facility from banks as well which is a provision in the lawitself.

Almost 23 years have passed and these passbooks have hardlybeen issued to the beneficiaries. This clearly indicates that successivegovernments have endorsed and patronized a fallacious, erroneous and adefective system which creates a space for scandalous and corrupt persons tostep in and get the entries of choice recorded in the revenue records.Furthermore non implementation of this legal provision of the law has alsoencouraged and influenced land-grabs, illegal encroachments by land mafia inactive collaboration with officers of Revenue Department especially on thestate land / wetlands across the state of Jammu & Kashmir.

PIL in High Court

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was recently filed by anNGO J&K Peoples Forum seeking judicial intervention for implementation ofvarious legal provisions of J&K Land Revenue Act. Counsel of the petitionerorganization Advocate Shafaqat Nazir while appearing before the division benchof Chief Geeta Mittal and Justice Rashid Ali Dar said that various legal provisionsof JK Land Revenue Act were being violated by the Government. In addition toissuance of passbooks was also raised included violation of section 138 ofJ&K Transfer of Property Act that forbids transfer of title of anyimmoveable property if such transfer is not supported by an instrumentregistered legally by the registering authority prescribed by the RegistrationAct. The NGO has sought direction for placing before the Court entire detailsof mutations attested and recorded in all the Pathwar halqas of J&K,without the support of any validly registered instrument as defined in section138 of J&K Transfer of Property Act, in the first instance affected from 1January 2010 to July 2019. The digitization of revenue record was also takenup. It is believed that old land records is not being scanned and uploaded oninternet instead the record is being rewritten. The authenticity of thisrewritten record is being questioned by many stakeholders. After hearing thecounsel, division bench issued notice to J&K Government and sought detailsabout the amount of money spend during last 20 years on the digitization ofland revenue record ?

Conclusion

Recent report published in Greater Kashmir revealed thatagriculture land holding in J&K has come down drastically during last 5years. I have written a lot on the issue. To ensure our land is safe from anyillegal encroachments, any mutation or transfer of land title by any mode otherthan that prescribed by law should be declared null and void by Government. DeputyCommissioners must start preparing passbooks for landowners as per the legalguidelines mentioned above. Lastly the digitization of land records be taken upon fast-track basis.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Greater Kashmir
www.greaterkashmir.com