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J&K administration seeks review of order on Roshni Act

Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

J&K administration seeks review of order on Roshni Act:


Context:

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.

Why review the order?

  • 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.

What needs to be done?

  • Distinguish between the two classes of people; the fact of being either a landless cultivator or the house holder with one dwelling in personal use.
  • CBI investigation should focus on the design of legal and policy framework, changes with malafide intention to encroach public land and get possessory rights.

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 About the Roshini Act:

  • Enacted in 2001, the law sought to regularise unauthorised land.
  • The Act envisaged the transfer of ownership rights of state land to its occupants, subject to the payment of a cost, as determined by the government.
  • The government said the revenue generated would be spent on commissioning hydroelectric power projects, hence the name “Roshni”.
  • Further, through amendments, the government also gave ownership rights of agricultural land to farmers occupying it for free, charging them only Rs 100 per kanal as documentation fee.

Why it was scrapped?

  1. In 2009, the State Vigilance Organisation registered an FIR against several government officials for alleged criminal conspiracy to illegally possess and vest ownership of state land to occupants who did not satisfy criteria under the Roshni Act.
  2. In 2014, a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) estimated that against the targeted Rs 25,000 crore, only Rs 76 crore had been realised from the transfer of encroached land between 2007 and 2013, thus defeating the purpose of the legislation.
  3. The report blamed irregularities including arbitrary reduction in prices fixed by a standing committee, and said this was done to benefit politicians and affluent people.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Roshni Act?
  2. Features of the Act.
  3. Amendments.

Mains Link:

What is J&K’s Roshni Act? Why was it scrapped recently? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.