Jammu, Srinagar: Below is the detailed clarification of the Jammu & Kashmir Government to frequently asked questions on new land laws. Brief offered by J&K Government Spokesman Rohi Kansal in presence of Principle Secretary (Rev) also holding the position of Financial Commissioner (Revenue) at a press conference in Jammu:
• Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of State Laws) Fifth Order, 2020- a number of changes have been made in the existing laws, particularly, laws related to land management
• 11 old laws have been repealed and 4 major laws modified
• Variety of reactions from political parties and others- “ J&K on sale”..” no protection in J&K like in other states”
• Lot of misinformation or perhaps lack of clarity
What are the changes…Which Acts or laws repealed and why … what are the modifications… What are the safeguards?
• First we need to understand the many of the Old/existing laws were actually a product of their times- were made to serve the old agrarian based economy.
• They were outdated and suffered from ambiguities and contradictions
• In many cases these laws were clearly regressive.
• There was lot of scope for discretionary interpretation and corruption
• Some examples
? Ceiling of 182 kanals fixed in Big Landed Estates Abolition Act was superseded by 100 standard kanals in the Agrarian Reforms Act, 1976, yet both provisions continued to coexist creating contradiction and confusion.
? Similarly, the old Agrarian Reforms Act prohibited the selling of land distributed to tillers even after 44 years- this was leading to benami transactions and restricting next generations
? Tenancy ended under Agrarian Reforms Act, 1976 but Tenancy Stay of Ejectment Proceedings Act, 1966 continues
? The Prohibition of Conversion of Land and Alienation of Orchards Act, 1975 not only prohibited alienation of orchard lands; it surprisingly restricted creation of new orchards too
1. To plant a new orchard govt permission was needed
? The Right of Prior Purchase Act severely constrained an owner’s right to dispose of his own property- neighbors and other had rights to restrict- both in urban and rural properties
? ‘Family’ was defined differently in different laws,
? Provision of alienation and conversion of land were different in different Laws
? Need to make Land Laws simpler to avoid litigation, corruption and contradictions
Sailent Features Of Amendment, Laws repealed and why?
? 11 Laws repealed
• They were either redundant or obsolete
• However, progressive or relevant clauses of each of these Acts saved in the New Land Revenue Act. e.g. Sec 20 B of BLEA Act saved as 133 BB of Land Revenue Act- fuel or fodder lands
• Relevant provisions of Consolidation of Holding Act 1962, Land Improvement Scheme 1972, Prevention of Fragmentation of Agricultural Holdings Act 1960- all saved as Section 23 of LR Act
• Alienation of Land Act- all relevant provisions save under 133 A-H of Land Revenue Act
• Definition of agriculture vastly expanded to include horticulture and allied agriculture activities
List of Repealed Laws
1.Common Lands (Regulation) Act 1956 A.D
2.Consolidation Of Holding Act, 1962 A.D.
3.Land Improvement Scheme Act 1972 A.D.
4.Prevention Of Fragmentation Of Agricultural Holdings Act 1960 A.D.
5.Alienation Of Land Act, 1995
6.Right Of Prior Purchase. Act, Svt. 1993 (1936 A.D)
7.The J&K Flood Plain Zones (Regulation And Development) Act, 2005 A.D.
8.The Jammu And Kashmir Underground Public Utilities (Acquisition Of Rights Of User In Land) Act, 2014
9. Tenancy (Stay Of Ejectment Proceedings) Act 1966 A.D
10.The Jammu And Kashmir Utilization Of Lands Act
11.Big Landed Estates Abolition Act 1950
12. Prohibition of Conversion of Land and Alienation of Orchards Act 1975 A.D.
Laws modified and major changes
1. Agrarian Reforms Act, 1976
2. Land Revenue Act, Svt 1996 (1939 AD)
3. Lands Grants Act, 1960 AD
4.Jammu & Kashmir Development Act 1970
? Apprehension about Land Reforms are unfounded
• The Agrarian Reforms Act stays very much in place- all that has been done is to abolish the Big Landed Estates Abolition Act which in any case had been superseded by a clearer and more precise Agrarian reform Act
• The Agrarian reform Act not only stays- it has been made more progressive by simplifying complex provisions which were only confusing issues leading to corruption and litigation.
? Disallows new resumption applications by landlords
? Permits sale by tillers after 15 years of ownership
? Time bound disposal of all pending/residual matters
? Agricultural land can be sold only to ‘Agriculturists’.
Land Revenue Act 1996
• Being developed as Land Code to avoid multiplicity of laws.
• Contradictory provisions with Development Act removed.
• Provisions made for setting up of Revenue Board; Regional Planning for regulating use of land; alienation and conversions.
• Progressive provisions of repealed Acts incorporated.
• Provides restrictions/procedure for sale and purchase of agricultural and non agricultural land.
• Under new Land Laws Agricultural land can only be sold to agriculturists from within JK
• More than 90% land cannot be sold to outsiders
PROTECTIONS AND SAFEGUARDS
• Sections 133 A-L
• A number of protections have been built into the new land laws on similar lines as has been enacted in other states such as
Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
• No agricultural land can be transferred to any person from outside the UT of JK
• Agricultural land but can only be sold to an agriculturist from within J&K.- even non agriculturists from within J&K barred
• The terms agricultural land and agriculturist have been unambiguously defined to include not just agriculture but horticulture and allied agro-activities as well.
• Most expansive definition, includes not just horticulture but poultry, Animal Husbandry, fallow land etc also
• Agriculturist has been defined as “.. a person who cultivates land personally in J&K..”.
• The safeguard on agricultural land alone would ensure that more than 90 percent of land in J&K which is an agricultural land remains protected and with the people of J&K.
? Board of Revenue headed by ACS Rank Officer to be main controlling body under the Act which will perform functions under the overall directions of Government.
? The Board of Revenue will not only be the Developing Authority for preparing regional plans but can notify a scheme of consolidation of land holdings and also a scheme for restricting and regulating the fragmentation of agricultural land holdings to make agriculture viable.
? Such Boards of Revenue exist in other states like Rajasthan, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh etc.
Jammu & Kashmir Development Act 1970
• Passed in 1970; modified 5 times
• Latest modifications- Provide for Master and Zonal development plans for identified local areas
• Provision for Industrial Development through statutorily setting up Industrial development Corporation
Strategic Areas,What does this mean? Will Army have land wherever it wants , build wherever, whatever it desires?
Section 3 has nothing to do with the transfer of any land to the Armed Forces. The transfer, both acquisition or requisitions, will continue to be governed by the existing law and the norms on the subject.
What does this section do?
It merely exempts the Armed forces from operation of such aspects of this Act so that the responsibility of ensuring that the construction activities are undertaken as per the Developmental Control Regulation of the Master Plan and all environmental safeguards are observed, has been delegated to the Armed Forces themselves.
Here too there are sufficient safeguards
Only applicable on own/legally acquired lands
Only on request from officer not below Corps Commander (Lt. Gen) Only for operational and training purposes
On the discretion of and after satisfaction of the Government- and on such conditions as may be required by the government
The main objective of the changes in the Laws
To provide to the people of J&K
• a modernized land management system
• which is people friendly and
• shall bring in greater transparency in land management
The laws need to be seen in totality
• As a major step towards the development and progress of J&K
• in ushering in land reforms
• revamping the agriculture sector
• rapid industrialization
• opening up greater employment avenues for the youth