Centre notifies Jammu and Kashmir land laws, omits ‘permanent resident’ as criteria
STATE TIMES NEWS
JAMMU: The Centre has paved the way for people from outside Jammu and Kashmir to buy land in the union territory by amending several laws, more than a year after the nullification of Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution.
In a gazette notification in Hindi and English, the Ministry of Home Affairs has made several changes to the land laws, including allowing use of agricultural land for setting up facilities of public purpose.
The most important tweak has been made in the Jammu and Kashmir Development Act that deals with disposal of land in the union territory as the Centre has omitted the phrase “permanent resident of the state” from Section 17 of the law.
Before the repeal of Article 370 and Article 35-A in August last year, non-residents could not buy any immovable property in Jammu and Kashmir. However, the fresh changes have paved the way for non-residents to buy land in the union territory.
Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha told reporters that the amendments did not allow transfer of agricultural land to non-agriculturists.
J&K UT has been put up for sale, reacts political parties
Srinagar/JAMMU: The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, an amalgam of various mainstream parties in Jammu and Kashmir including the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Tuesday condemned the amendments to land laws to allow people from outside the Union Territory to buy land there, and pledged to fight it on all fronts.
Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party president Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari also reiterated his party’s position on the restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir along with comprehensive domicile rights on land and jobs for its residents and said it would take up its reservations before the top leadership in the country after going through the notification. In a gazette notification, the Centre has omitted the phrase “permanent resident of the state” from Section 17 of the Jammu and Kashmir Development Act that deals with disposal of the land in the union territory, paving the way for people from outside Jammu and Kashmir to buy land in JK and Ladakh, over a year after the nullification of Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution.
Reacting to the development, the National Conference said the latest move by the Centre has put up “Jammu and Kashmir on sale”.
NC vice president Omar Abdullah slammed the new land laws notified by the government for JK and Ladakh and said the newly introduced JK Development Act, which has come into force with immediate effect, was “hostile to the interests of the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh”.
He said that with these new laws, “tokenism of the domicile certificate has been done away with as purchasing non-agricultural land has been made easier. These new laws are unacceptable to people of JK and Ladakh.”
He accused the BJP of indulging in the opportunistic politics and that the issuance of the amended land rules notification smacks of its cheap politics and deceit.
“Interestingly the Centre waited till the elections to LAHDC had concluded and the BJP had won a majority before putting Ladakh also up for sale. This is what Ladakhis got for trusting the assurances of the BJP,” he said.
“The new laws are a consequence of the measures undertaken by the GOI on 5th of August without democratic bearings and much to the resentment and anger of the region’s populace. The measure reflects the wanton breach of trust of the people of JK by a dispensation which is brewing with abhorrence for the diversity of the country and the democracy. “The measures are also part of a larger design aimed to destroy the local, distinctive cultural identity of Kashmir thereby giving a ditch to the successive promises made by the successive central governments from time to time,” he said, adding that such measures only reveal that it is not the people’s aspirations which matters to the ruling dispensation in New Delhi, it is rather the land which they want to hold on and are interested in.
Reacting to the development, People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) spokesperson Sajad Lone said, “The amendment stripped the permanent residents of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh of exclusive right to acquire and hold immovable property in the state — now unconstitutionally divided into two Union Territories and granting such rights to non State Subjects.”
Terming the Ministry of Home Affairs order as a “huge betrayal”, Lone said, “This is a massive assault on the rights of the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and grossly unconstitutional. The Alliance has vowed to fight the anti Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh measure on all fronts.”
“The repeal of big estates abolition act — the first ever agrarian reform in the subcontinent — is an insult to the sacrifices of thousands of freedom fighters and farmers who fought against an autocratic and oppressive rule and a crude attempt to rewrite history,” he said.
The PAGD spokesperson said the order made in exercise of powers under the Reorganisation Act, 2019 is yet another “brazen violation” of the principle of constitutional proprietary of fundamental importance to a constitutional democracy at a time the matter was pending before the Supreme Court.
Lone said the “unconstitutional measure” is clearly designed as an attempt to preempt the outcome of the challenge before the Supreme Court.
“The assault on exclusive property rights apart, changes in urban development laws and creation of Security Zones are bound to prejudicially affect the environment and ecosystem in environmentally fragile regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh in utter disregard of grave environmental concerns,” he added.
The PADG comprises the National Conference, the PDP, CPI(M), CPI, People’s Conference, Awami National Conference and the People’s Movement.
CPM leader M Y Tarigami said it was “a design to disempower the people of Jammu and Kashmir further and to put their land on sale for corporations.” “It is daylight robbery of land in the name of integration, development and security,” he added.
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said it was yet another step to disenfranchise the people of Jammu and Kashmir. “Yet another step thats part of GOI’s nefarious designs to disempower and disenfranchise people of JK. From the unconstitutional scrapping of Article 370 to facilitating loot of our natural resources & finally putting land in JK up for sale,” she tweeted.
In a separate statement, JKAP president Bukhari said his party would go through the gazette notification with regard to land rights in JK and would take up its reservations before the top leadership of the country.
Earlier, the Congress said, the government opened the doors of jobs to outsiders through three provisions in the domicile law.
“The outside youth could get domicile through those provisions and become eligible for any job in UT. Now the apprehensions have come true and the BJP government has facilitated the sale of land to all non-J&K residents, at the cost of interests, culture and identity of people in the erstwhile Dogra State, already reduced to a union territory against wishes of all people, the party said.
The new land laws notified by the central government allowing people from outside Jammu and Kashmir to buy land in the Union Territory will open the “floodgates of development”, the BJP said on Tuesday.
However, there are several exemptions in the Act which enable transfer of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes, including setting up of educational or health care facilities.
Former Advocate General Mohammad Ishaq Qadri said the amendments have opened floodgates for people from outside Jammu and Kashmir to buy land. “Now there is no legal bar on purchase of land here by outsiders,” he said.
The notification has replaced Section 30 and Part VII of the State Land Acquisition Act of 1990 with the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.
The other major laws repealed by the notification includes the J&K Big Landed Estates (abolition) Act, a landmark act brought in by Sheikh Abdullah that gave land rights to landless tillers.
The JK Alienation of Land Act, 1995, the JK Common Lands (regulation) Act, 1956 and the JK Consolidation of Holdings Act, 1962 were also repealed.
Other laws to be repealed are the J&K Prevention of Fragmentation of Agricultural Holdings Act, 1960; JK Prohibition on Conversion of Land and Alienation of Orchards Act, 1975; the JK Right of Prior Purchase ACT, 1936 A.D; Section 3 of the J&K Tenancy (Stay of Ejectment Proceedings) Act 1966; the JK Utilisation of Land Act, 2010; and the J&K Underground Utilities (Acquisition of rights of user in land) Act. The notification also maintains that government on the written request of an Army officer not below the rank of Corp Commander may declare an area as “strategic area” within a local area, only for direct operational and training requirements of armed forces, which may be excluded from the operation of this Act and rules and regulations made there under in the manner and to the extent.