J&K administration to annul actions under Roshni Act, retrieve land within 6 months

Jammu: Three weeks after the Jammu and Kashmir High Court ordered a CBI probe into an alleged scam in the Roshni land scheme, the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Saturday said it would annul all actions taken, cancel mutations and retrieve entire land in six months.

The scheme initially envisaged conferment of proprietary rights of around 20.55 lakh kanals of land (1,2,50 hectares) to occupants of which 15.85 percent of the land was approved for vesting of ownership rights.

But against the expected revenue from such occupants, the revenue actually generated was meager, thereby failing to realise the objective of the scheme that was finally repealed by Satya Pal Malik, the former governor of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, on 28 November, 2018.

On 9 October, a division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rajesh Bindal ordered the CBI probe into irregularities in the scheme and directed the agency to file a status report every eight weeks.

"The J&K administration has decided to implement the high court order in which 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 spokesman said.

The act, popularly referred to as the Roshni scheme or the Roshini Act, was believed to be a revolutionary step that had the twin objectives of generating resources for financing power projects and conferment of proprietary rights to occupants of state land.

It was hoped that the legislation would help to boost the farming sector and in turn generate substantial revenue for funding power projects across the state.

An order issued by the Jammu and Kashmir Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, with the approval of the Lt Governor, stated that the government has been found necessary in the order to implement the judgment passed by the court on a PIL and other connected matters.

"Now, therefore, it is hereby ordered that the principal secretary to the government, revenue department, shall pass an order declaring all 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 thereunder as void ab-initio," the spokesman said quoting the order.

He said it would be ensured that all the mutations done in furtherance of the act are annulled.

The principal secretary will also work out a plan to retrieve the large tracts of state land vested under the act in a time-bound manner, the spokesman said.

He said the secretary will also work out the modalities and a plan to evict encroachers from such state Land and retrieve it within six months.

The officer would also work out modalities for handling the money received for these lands after the annulment, the spokesman said.

The secretary will also ensure that information regarding district-wise state land, as of 1 January, is complied and posted on official websites with details of land that has been encroached, he said.

"The details of the applications received under the act, the valuation of land, amounts paid by the beneficiary, the orders passed under the act, and the persons in whose favour the vesting was done and also... further transfers, if any, recognised and accepted by the authorities" should be posted on the websites, the spokesman said.

The details should also include, "complete identities of all influential persons (including ministers, legislators, bureaucrats, government officials, police officers, businessmen) their relatives or persons holding benami for them, who have derived benefit under the act or occupy state lands", he said.

The action would be completed within a period of one month, the spokesman said.

Divisional commissioners of Jammu as well as of the Kashmir region will place on the record before the high court the details of encroached state land not covered by the act, he said.

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