The Jammu and Kashmir administration has directed that portions of land that have been encroached upon as part of the now unconstitutional Roshni Act shall be retrieved within six months.

The decision comes three weeks after the J&K High Court declared the Kashmir State Land (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001 or Roshni Act as unconstitutional and unsustainable.

What is the Roshni act?

The Roshni Act was aimed at generating resources for financing power projects and boosting the farming sector.

The Act, which was enacted during Farooq Abdullah's tenure as chief minister, was expected to  generate Rs 25,000 crore by transferring 20 lakh kanals of state-owned land to existing occupants against payment at market rates. 

During the tenure of Ghulam Nabi Azad, this cut-off was relaxed to 2007. 

In 2014, the Comptroller and Auditor General estimated that only Rs 76 crore had been realised from the transfer of encroached land between 2007 and 2013.

With the scheme failing to meet expected revenue targets, the then J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik repealed the Roshni Act on November 28, 2018.

Controversial CAG report on Roshni Act

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India had pointed out that National Conference and Congress gained "institutionally" from the Act.

In its 2014 report, the CAG noted that "in contravention of the said provisions of the Act, lands were transferred to seven ‘institutional entities in Srinagar with no safeguards”

It pointed out in detail how 7 Kanals and 16 Marlas of the land was transferred to the Congress-controlled Khidmat Trust and 3 Kanals and 16 Marlas of the land to National Conference party headquarters Nawai-e-Subuh Trust for just peanuts.

"Lands valued by the committee at Rs 13.1 crore were approved for transfer at a price of Rs 1.97 crore against which only Rs 1.47 crore had been collected."

What has J&K administration decided?

An order issued by the Jammu and Kashmir Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, with the Lieutenant Governor’s approval states: "It is hereby ordered that the Principal Secretary to Government, Revenue Department, shall pass an order declaring all actions taken under the Jammu and Kashmir State Land (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001, as amended from time to time, and rules made there under as void ab-initio." 

Revenue Department will ensure that information on all influential persons (including ministers, legislators, bureaucrats, government officials, police officers, businessmen etc.) their relatives or persons holding benami for them, who have derived benefit under the Roshni Act, 2001/ Roshni Rules 2007 and/or occupy State lands, will be compiled and posted on the official website.