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What is the 'Roshni Act' which has been declared null and void by the J&K government?

By Priti Kumari

SRINAGAR: On Saturday, the Jammu & Kashmir government proclaimed its stance over the long-negotiated Jammu & Kashmir State Land (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001, popularly known as 'Roshni Act' by declaring it as unconstitutional. Confirming the order of J&K High Court, the Central government has ceased all the probable ways of illegal land acquisition in the former princely state of J&K.

With the approval of J&K Lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha, J&K Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs affirmed," it is hereby ordered that the Principal Secretary to Government Revenue Departments, shall pass an order declaring all actions taken under the Roshni Act, as amended from time to time, & rules made thereunder as void ab-initio".

Indeed it has been said that the revenue generated from 'Roshni Act' i.e., legalising the illegally occupied lands of 20 lakh Kanals, will be used for the construction of hydel power projects in J&K which has been presumed to bring 'roshni'(light) in the prior state of J&K, failed to achieve its target. It has been sanctioned by Farooq Abdullah led National Conference Government in 2001, under whose umbrella many bureaucrats, high-ranked officials, politicians got benefitted. It was estimated that in total, it will generate a revenue of Rs 25,000 crore to the government.

The order also claimed, "the officer shall ensure that all the mutations done in furtherance of the Roshni Act are annulled. He shall also work out a plan to retrieve the large tracts of state land vested under the Act, 2001 in a time-bound manner. He shall also work out the modalities and plan to evict encroachers from such State land and retrieve it within a period of six months".

Further with the changing government, the time period up to which the land can be legalised was altered to 2004 & 2007 from the original time duration of 1990. Again, in the year 2018 the then J&K governor Satya Pal Malik scrapped the pending applications for the same. With the abrogation of the very Act, the government aims to retrieve 3.4 lakh Kanals transferred land of the former states within six months.

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