J&K administration seeks review of order on Roshni Act

Srinagar , December 7: In a U-turn, the J&K administration has sought modifications to the High Court judgment passed on October 9, which declared the 2001 Roshni Act null and void in the Union Territory (UT) and directed authorities to end the ownership rights of occupants of government land.

In a review petition filed on December 4 by Nazir Ahmad Thakur, Special Secretary, Revenue Department, the J&K government has pleaded for “modifying the judgement”.

The petition argued that a large number of common people would suffer unintentionally.

“This includes landless cultivators and individuals who are themselves residing in dwellings on small areas. They are unfortunately clubbed along with rich and wealthy land grabbers, who have obtained a title over state land through the provisions of the now struck Act,” it said.

The government underlined the need to “distinguish between these two classes of people; the fact of being either a landless cultivator or the house holder with one dwelling in personal use.”

It, however, called for a CBI investigation to focus on the design of legal and policy framework, changes with malafide intention to encroach public land and get possessory rights.

“This is submitted to allow the CBI to focus on influential and powerful people who defrauded the state,” it pleaded.

The government’s U-turn comes months after it chose not to contest the judgement.

In a number of lists made public, on the directions of the court, the government named senior politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen as “illegal occupants” of land, including lease land, and served them notices for eviction.

The government’s move comes as data generated by the Revenue Department showed farmers as main beneficiaries of the Act. According to the official figures, a total 6,04,602 kanals (75,575 acres) of land was transferred across J&K under the Act, including 5,71,210 kanals (71,401 acres) in Jammu and 33,392 kanals (4,173 acres) in Kashmir.

According to the official figures, actual transfer of 3.48 lakh kanals (43,449 acres) — 3.15 lakh kanals (39, 374 acres) in Jammu and 33,000 kanals in Kashmir — has taken place. In Srinagar, where top politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen were named, only 250 kanals (31.25 acres) of land was transferred under the Act out of 498 kanals (62.25 acres), with most of this land under lease holders.