by Lateef U Zaman Deva
While the efforts of Prof Bahla and Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed are worth to be appreciated; the fact remains that in Jammu and Kashmir various dispensations in the matter of regularisation of illegal occupation on State land, evacuee land have been made in the past without attracting public attention for reasons one can decipher after acquainting himself with the series of Government orders issued from time to time in this behalf:
- 85 lakh kanals of evacuee land illegally occupied in the districts of Jammu, Udhampur, Kathua, Samba and Rajouri was ordered by the Government not to be disturbed and occupants thereof instead declared as local allottees, without any liability towards payment of rent let alone the premium, in terms of Government Order 578-C of 1954 read with order no 371 of 1971 contrary to the provisions of law laid down under JK Evacuees (Administration) of Property Act governing the allotment/lease of the immoveable Evacuee property
- Under LB-6 and LB-7 both dated 05.06.1958 and S-432 of 1967 the illegal occupants of State land were conferred initially with the rights of tenants-at-will followed by grant of ownership rights. The beneficiaries were mostly rich, civil servants and those highly mobile in the societal ladders. Persons not born on the cut of date of kharif 1957/ infants or living far away from the land site or could never be deemed to have cultivated the land due to their socio-economic positions have got rights conferred contrary to the thematic principles underlying the policy of the State for benefitting the landless and smallholders of landholding.
- The lessees of Nazool land under Jammu and Kashmir Land Grants Act were authorized occupants or overstaying after the expiry of initial lease periods but entitled for renewal of their leases and therefore can’t fall in the category of illegal occupants of state land. Even under Government orders passed much earlier they were entitled to opt for grant of ownership rights subject to payment of the land cost to be assessed in accordance with law in force. As against the illegal occupants of state land, the lessees/licensees of Nazool land were accorded a favourable dispensation much less than they have had to pay in the event the orders applicable under Land Grants Act had been made applicable to them.
In Valley districts, the parcels of state land in illegal possession of agriculturists/tenants/ beneficiaries of land reforms of 1950 and 1976 are generally smaller to motivate them for coming forward to get ownership rights and the campaign started under Government instructions due to lukewarm response from the prospective beneficiaries got hamstrung by the land row of 2008 when substantial work during this period was underway in Jammu Division.
- Undoubtedly the rules formulated in 2007 are beyond the scope of the main Act passed by the State Legislature during 2001 but this is not a loner one.
(The author is former Chairman Jammu and Kashmir Public Service Commission. The brief write-up was copied from his Facebook wall.)