In a significant move, the Centre has notified the new Land Laws for Jammu & Kashmir. A gazette notification, the Union Home Ministry has notified this on Monday, 26 October, paved way for any Indian to buy land in the Union Territory (UT) of Jammu & Kashmir.
However, this does not include agricultural land, which can only be transferred/sold to an J&K-based agriculturist. The government can, in certain instances, authorize an agriculturist to alienate land to a non-agriculturist for sale or as means of gift or exchange.
The MHA notified what it calls UT of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of Central Laws) Third Order, 2020. The order comes into force with immediate effect.
"With immediate effect, the Acts mentioned in the Schedule to this Order shall, until repealed or amended by a competent Legislature or other competent authority, have effect, subject to the adaptations and modifications directed by the said Schedule, or if it is so directed, shall stand repealed," read the order.
A new body – Jammu and Kashmir Industrial Development Corporation – has been set up and if the said corporation is unable to acquire land for above purposes, government could invoke the the Right to Fair Compensation Act and acquire land on behalf of it.
According to the amended act, the government may on the written request of an Army officer can also declare a region as “strategic area” – within a local area, only for direct operational and training requirements of armed forces.
The General Clauses Act, 1897, applies for the interpretation of this current Order since it applies for interpretation of laws in force in India, said the order. Meanwhile, 12 state laws have been repealed as a whole.
Meanwhile, those legislations which are being repealed as whole include the Jammu and Kashmir Alienation Of Land Act (V of Samvat 1995), the Jammu and Kashmir Big Landed Estates Abolition Act (XVII Samvat 2007),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, among others.
‘Unacceptable’: Politicians Condemn Move
Reacting to the development, former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah called it “unacceptable amendments to the land ownership laws of J&K.”
In another statement, Abdullah called the Act hostile to the interests of the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
The recently formed People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration in a statement also condemned the move, calling the MHA order a “huge betrayal”.
Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti also took to Twitter to lash out against the move, calling it “another step that's part of GOI’s nefarious designs to disempower & disenfranchise people of J&K.”
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury called it “highway robbery”.