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Roshni scheme repealed in JK

Jammu, Nov 28: The State Administrative Council (SAC) which met here on Wednesday under the chairmanship of Governor, Satya Pal Malik approved repeal of the Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001, (commonly known as Roshni scheme).

Advisors B B Vyas, K Vijay Kumar, Khurshid Ahmad Ganai and K K Sharma, Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam and Principal Secretary to the Governor, Umang Narula attended the meeting.

All pending proceedings under the Act shall stand cancelled immediately and abate, the SAC decided, however, directed that any action taken under the provisions of the repealed Act shall not be invalid.

The Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001 was enacted in the year 2001 with the twin objective of generating resources for financing power projects and conferment of proprietary rights to the occupants of the State Land.

The Act popularly called as Roshni Scheme was believed to be a revolutionary step in the annals of history in Jammu and Kashmir after the Agrarian Reforms Act.   It was hoped that the legislation would help to boost the farming sector and in turn generate substantial revenue for funding power projects across the State.  The rules under the Act were also notified.

It is pertinent to mention that under the provisions of the Act, applications for conferment of ownership rights were to be filed upto 31st March 2007.  Any application filed after the said date was not to be considered under the provisions of the Act.  This would lead to the inference that the provisions of the Act had actually become inoperable viz-a-viz conferment of ownership rights on the State Land after 31st March 2007.

The Scheme initially envisaged conferment of proprietary rights of around 20.55 lakh Kanals to the occupants of which only 15.85% land was approved for vesting of ownership rights. Against the expected/anticipated revenue from such occupants, the revenue actually generated has been meager thereby failing to realize the objective of the Scheme.  There have also been reports about the misuse of some provisions of legislation.

It is significant to highlight that the entire legislation was challenged before the High Court of J&K, in a Public Interest Litigation titled Ankur Sharma V/s State, wherein the High Court besides staying the proceedings under the said Act also directed that neither the occupants having been conferred upon the ownership rights shall sell these lands nor can raise constructions on such lands.

The said PIL is pending before the High Court.  The Court has also directed that no further transaction of any kind in respect of the property covered under the Roshni Act shall be affected till further orders of the High Court.

After careful consideration of all pros and cons of the Scheme, SAC concluded that the Scheme has not served the desired purpose and is no longer relevant in the present context.