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    Fiddling with the laws By J.H.RESHI - JK Latest News

    Fiddling with the laws 

    Fiddling with the laws

    By J.H.RESHI


    It is not only impracticable but also legally unsustainable

    Way back in year 1926, the then Maharaja of the United States of J&K, comprising provinces of Jammu, Kashmir, Ladak and Gilgit-Biltistant, made a declaration called Allan No.4. Under which all over the state, land owners were given state lands, equivalent to their proprietary lands held by them in a village. 

    As a result thereof thousands of Kanals of land in each such village came to be mutated and transferred in the name of the benefi ciaries thereof, without having to pay even a penny in return. 

    He was well read and progressive. The main objective of his reforms was 

    to empower people, increase productiv-ity and in the process get some fi nances to enable him to run the 

    day to day affairs of the state. 

    However, when a popular government headed by Sheikh Mohammad Abdul-

    lah came to power the reforms introduced by the erstwhile Maharaja were thought to be feudalistic. They came up with a law called The Jammu Kashmir Big landed Estate Abolition Act of 1950, where under a maximum ceil-ing of 182 Kanals was put on each landowner and the lands in excess, if any, held by anyone escheated to the state. As result thereof around 45 lakh acres of land were retrieved and out of it 2.3 lakh acres were given to the actual tillers, free of cost. 

    Apart from that they also abolished private money lending practices prevalent in the state and all such existing debts were written off and a huge debt trapped section of the popula-tion were absolved of any liabil-ity on account thereof, without having to pay even the actual borrowed amount. 

    Millions of people living in abject poverty right then benefi ted from it.

     The main architect of these so to say revolutionary legislations was none other than the then revenue minster Mirza Moham-mad Afzal Beg. The ceiling of the land was further slashed down to 12 ½ standard acres in respect of agricultural and the centuries old practice of absen-tee landlordism and tenancy was put to an abrupt end.

    However, the state land were exempt from it and those in cul-tivation of the state lands were allowed to cultivate the same without any tenancy or owner-ship rights bestowed on them.

    The state lands, other than lands used for agricultural pur-poses, were however, covered under the J&K Land Grants Act. 

    It permitted state to grant such lands on lease for a specifi ed period for residential as well as commercial purposes on a premium and rent fi xed by the government and for public or other welfare purposes it could be allotted on a nominal sum. As the rent fi xed longtime back for these lands was felt to be so low, and cultivators of the state agriculture lands were not given the benefi t of the J&K Agrarian reforms Act, Govern-ment of Jammu and Kashmir came up with the vesting of the own-ership Rights Act, commonly known as Roshini Act, as the revenue to be gener-ated was proposed to be utilized for spon-soring of the hydro power in the state. 

    The cultivators of the state agriculture lands from genera-tions together were, 

    however, given the ownership right over their lands without having to pay anything except mutation charges. 

    However, the government projection of realizing over Rs. 25,000 Crore for sponsoring of the electric generation projects in the state was far from realis-tic, and too ambitious. But that does not mean that those who opted for availing the owner-ship rights in consideration of money can be deprived of it without fi rst compensating them for the damages they may have to suffer because of back tracking of the government, or for thecost of the huge assets that they have raised over such lands.

    As the ownership rights have been bestowed on them in terms of a dulyenacted statue, and no such substantive right created by a statue in law can be taken away retrospectively. The order passed by the UT government, contrary to this settled legal position is therefore amenable to challenge before the Hon’ble Apex court.

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