Old land laws were obsolete; saying J&K is ‘on sale’ uncharitable: Govt

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Srinagar: The government on Monday termed reactions against new land laws that allow the buying of the land by outsiders as “uncharitable” even as it called old legislations as “outdated” and “in many cases clearly regressive and anti-people”

“A number of old laws, at least 11 have been repealed and four major laws have been modified,” Principal Secretary PDD and Information, Rohit Kansal, who is also Government spokesperson, told reporters at a presser in Jammu.

Flanked by Dr Pawan Kotwal, Principal Secretary, Revenue Department, and Financial Commissioner Revenue and Sanjeev Verma, Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Kansal said this modification, repeal and change has led to varied reactions across the spectrum.

“And many of these reactions have been uncharitable. For example some political parties have said that J&K is now on sale. Some others have said that there is no protection with regard to land on similar lines as has been given to people in other states,” he said, adding, “We think there is lot of misapprehension, misinformation and lack of clarity on these issues. So the three of us thought we will share with you salient features about these Acts and inform you about the changes and what necessitated all this and what are the safeguards that have been built.”

He said that  there was need to understand that entire the gamut of land laws which was existing in J&K was “probably a product of its time and may be appropriate to the time when it was introduced.”

“But it was essentially meant to serve an old agrarian rural economy. Quite obviously many of these laws had become outdated, obsolete and as new laws kept added, the system of land laws when looked as a whole suffered from not only obsoleteness and redundancies but also ambiguities and contradictions and in many cases the laws that were in existence were clearly regressive and anti-people,” he said.

“How was it so? Let me give you some examples: The big Landed Abolition Act fixed a ceiling of 182 kanals but it was superseded by the Agrarian Reforms Act of 1976 which refined yet later Act continued to coexist,” he said, adding, “The Agrarian Reforms 1976 Act is 44 years old now. We are in 2020 now  yet this Act prohibited selling of any land that was available to the tiller and so as a result even after a generation has past and this land could not be sold or transacted. What was the consequence? You had large number of so-called Benami transactions and restriction to other generations for transactions which was otherwise made legitimately available to the tiller.” 

At the end of all this, he said, there was gamut of land laws which was “sometimes inconsistent, sometimes ambiguous, sometimes contradictory or at other times clearly opposed to interest at public at large”. 

“There was a need to straighten up, clean up the system and provide a set of simpler land laws which would prevent unnecessary litigation and prevent discretionary interpretation of laws leaves opportunities for the vested interests.” 

On October 27, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, repealed the 11 laws and modified four other major laws of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir .

The announcement has been made by Ministry of Home Affairs as per its order to be called the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of Central Laws) Third Order, 2020.

The legislations repealed as whole include the Jammu and Kashmir Alienation Of Land Act (V of Samvat 1995), the Jammu and Kashmir Big Landed Estates Abolition Act ( XVII Samvat 2007) , The Jammu and Kashmir Common Lands (Regulation) Act, 1956, the Jammu and Kashmir Consolidation Of Holdings Act, 1962, the Jammu and Kashmir Flood Plain Zones (Regulation and Development) Act, the Jammu and Kashmir Land Improvement Schemes Act ( Xxiv Of 1972), the Jammu and Kashmir Prevention Of Fragmentation Of Agricultural Holdings Act, the Jammu and Kashmir Prohibition On Conversion Of Land and Alienation Of Orchards Act ; the Jammu and Kashmir Right Of Prior Purchase, Act [ ii of svt. 1993 (1936 A.d.)], the Jammu and Kashmir Tenancy (Stay Of Ejectment Proceedings) Act ( Xxxiii Of 1966), the Jammu and Kashmir Utilization Of Lands Act ( Ix Of Samvat 2010)  and the Jammu and Kashmir Underground Public Utilities (Acquisition Of Rights Of User In Land) Act ( Iv Of 2014). (GNS)

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