November 26, 2020

Former J&K PSC Chairman M S Pandit moves SC against scrapping of Roshni Act

Srinagar/Nov,26: A top retired IAS officer and former Jammu & Kashmir Public Service Commission Chairman Mohammed Shafi Pandit on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court against the High Court order to scrap Jammu and Kashmir State Land (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001, which is also knows as the Roshni Act.
The former top bureaucrat and his wife were named in the list of alleged beneficiaries under the Act. The list was published online by the Jammu and Kashmir Government on Monday.Pandit alleged that the list was not accurate and had portrayed the beneficiaries in a negative way. He added that there were attempts to “overreach the judicial authority”.
The former top bureaucrat said that the land to which he and his wife had the proprietary right was bought by his mother-in-law in 1953. He added that the allotment of the land was done in 1936, by the then maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir. “The transfer was accepted by the government, and the leasehold rights were renewed up to 2016, in accordance with law,” he said.
Pandit said “In most of the leasehold cases, a lot of uncertainty prevailed about renewal. Roshni Act/Rules made it possible for us to obtain proprietary rights on land, on payment of the prescribed amount, which obviated the need for renewal, after expiry of the lease.” The Jammu and Kashmir Government had also named Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and his sister Suraiya Matto in its second list of beneficiaries of the Roshni Act published on Tuesday.
Their father and National Conference Chairperson Farooq Abdullah had denied accusations of encroachment. “I have purchased every inch of land where my house was built in 1998,” Abdullah said. “Falsehood is being unleashed to defame me.”The Jammu and Kashmir High Court had in October declared the Roshni Act “illegal, unconstitutional and unsustainable”. The court also ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation-led inquiry into the alleged involvement of public servants and others in grabbing government land.
The Act was repealed in 2018 after then Governor Satya Pal Malik concluded that it had “not served” its purpose and called it a “Rs 25,000 crore land scam”. The move came after advocate Ankur Sharma, who had defended the accused in the Kathua rape case of January 2018, sought its repeal to “defeat the jihadi war in the form of demographic invasion of Jammu”. Farooq Abdullah’s government had enacted the Jammu and Kashmir State Lands vesting of ownership to the occupants act in 2001. The law was to grant the ownership of state land to its occupants, for a fee determined by the government. Its stated aim was to generate funds for power projects, earning it the moniker, the Roshni Act.

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