Protection under new land laws same as Himachal, U'khand laws: J&K govt

The Jammu and Kashmir government said that all safeguards and protection have been incorporated in the new land laws for the Union territory as have been enacted in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand

Security personnel take position during an encounter with militants, at Batamaloo in Srinagar. Photo: PTI
Security personnel in Srinagar

The Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday asserted that all safeguards and protection have been incorporated in the new land laws for the Union territory as have been enacted in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

"The laws do not mention anything like domicile (needed to purchase non-agriculture land in J&K). The domicile is issued under a separate act and is meant for jobs. So here, anybody can buy the non-agriculture property, but only agriculturists can buy agriculture land, Financial Commissioner Pawan Kotwal said at a press conference here.

He was replying to a question on confusion among the public regarding buying of land in J&K by outsiders.

The Centre had recently paved the way for people from outside Jammu and Kashmir to buy land in the Union territory (UT) by amending several laws, over a year after the nullification of Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution

The government has repealed 11 land laws that existed in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, replacing the old, regressive, intrinsically contradictory and outdated laws with a set of modern, progressive and people friendly provisions, Kotwal said.

The new land laws will not only afford protection to over 90 per cent of the land in J&K from being alienated to outsiders, but will also help revamp the agriculture sector, foster rapid industrialisation, aid economic growth and create jobs in the UT.

Rohit Kansal, Principal Secretary (Information), who was also present in the press conference, noted that the old land laws were required to be modified for modern economic needs.

"Besides, they were beset with ambiguities, contradictions and redundancies and in many cases, were clearly regressive, he said.

"For instance, the old Agrarian Reforms Act prohibited the selling of land distributed to tillers even after 44 years. The Right of Prior Purchase Act severely constrained an owner's right to dispose of his own property, he said.

Kansal said the new land laws are modern and progressive even while affording adequate protection against alienation of land to outsiders.

"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, he underlined.

The official said no agricultural land can be transferred to any person from outside J&K, but can only be sold to an agriculturist from within the UT.

"No land used for agricultural purpose can be used for any non-agricultural purpose. The terms agricultural land' and agriculturist' have been unambiguously defined to include not just agriculture, but horticulture and allied agro-activities as well. An agriculturist has been defined as a person who cultivates land personally in the UT of J&K', Kansal asserted.

The safeguard on agricultural land alone would ensure that more than 90 per cent of land in the UT which is agricultural land remains protected and with the people of J&K, he said.

"There are now provisions for setting up of a Board of Revenue, regional planning for regulating use of land, alienation and conversion, land lease, consolidation and contract farming," the official added.