Shafi Pandit denies land grab charge, clarifies as to how lawfully he acquired the land

Srinagar, November, 25:Reacting to the official statement on land acquired by people under, now quashed, controversial Roshni Act which was aimed to generate a revenue of Rs 25000 crores to the state to be invested in hydropower projects, noted former bureaucrat and social worker M S Pandit today denied having grabbed the land in Gogjibagh, saying he had got it under due process of law on lease hold basis for constructing residential accomodation and consequent upon Roshni Act coming in to force he applied for its transfer on freehold basis. In a detailed statement issued to the press today Pandit added,
‘I have already filed Special Leave Petition before the Hon’ble Supreme Court. I have full faith in the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India that it would enable an opportunity of hearing to be granted to us.’ He added, ‘Therefore, I am restraining from making any detailed comments.’ He said, ‘However, I want to only make the following points, so that those wanting to report, do not make defamatory statements without getting the full picture and also do not misrepresent the Hon’ble High Court’s judgment:
a. It is unfortunate that, pursuant to a recent judgement of the Hon’ble High Court, in Roshni Case, my name and that of my wife, Mrs Nighat Pandit, has been included in some list that is circulating, which has portrayed all of the beneficiaries in a bad light. The list is not accurate and it appears that the same attempts to overreach the judicial authority.
b. We have been lawful occupants of a part the family land, belonging to my mother in law, who had bought its leasehold rights in 1953, from a retired judge, late Ram Lal Sharma. The allotment of this land had been made by the then Maharaja of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir, in 1936, on payment of the prescribed premium and ground rent. The transfer was accepted by the government, and the leasehold rights were renewed upto 2016, in accordance with law. In most of the leasehold cases, a lot of uncertainty prevailed about renewal. Roshni Act/Rules made it possible for us to obtain proprietary rights on land, on payment of the prescribed amount, which obviated the need for renewal, after expiry of the lease.
c. The Judgment passed by the Hon’ble High Court has been passed without hearing us. The Judgment does not seem to make a distinction between lawful occupants, who had prior leases and those who have simply encroached on public land. Since, we were not parties before the Hon’ble High Court, this distinction could not be pointed out to the Hon’ble Court. There are clear allegations in the order concerning some land grabbers, but there is no discussion on lawful allottees. Therefore, it appears that true facts were not even placed by the Government before the Hon’ble High Court.
d. My wife and I stand in the position of lawful allottees of land made available by Government for construction of residences. Such a facility is available throughout rest of India; often referred to as Nazul land in North India and specifically under L&DO in Delhi. In fact, in Delhi all of Nizamuddin and Defence Colony land was initially under lease from Government and has been converted as freehold by the occupants after payment of due sums. This information is available on internet.
e. Our position is no different. We are lawful allottees. After Roshni Act, 2001/2007, 
encouraged conversion of leasehold land to freehold, we made a lawful application as per the law.  The law is enacted by legislature and we merely applied under that law. In that sense, our position is no different than any other beneficial scheme made by the Government whose benefits citizens take all the time.  This critical aspect was not presented to the Hon’ble High Court. The scheme was so popular amongst the Kashmiris that J&K Bank even launched Roshni Loan scheme to fund the lawful exercise being done by the Revenue Department.  The rates or demands made under the Roshni Act were determined by a statutory committee in accordance with the provisions of the Act. We are ordinary citizens and do not have any role in high level decisions of the Government on enacting a legislation taken by the legislature.
f. It may be noted that to our knowledge the prices determined under the Roshni Act, 2001 were in fact higher than those awarded under the Land Acquisition Act to those citizens whose land in the same area had been acquired’