The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has adjourned till December 22 the hearing on the review petitions on the Roshni Act, Greater Kashmir reported on Thursday. On December 10, the Supreme Court had asked the High Court to decide on December 21 the review pleas against its verdict scrapping the Act.
A bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Sanjay Dhar directed the registry to list all review petitions that would be filed till December 21 for the final hearing on December 22.
Around 21 such petitions, including one by the Union Territory administration, have been filed so far in the case, Advocate General DC Raina and Additional Advocate General Aseem Sawhney told the High Court on Wednesday. The lawyers said that the registry, however, listed only 11 of them.
Sawhney, representing the Jammu and Kashmir administration, also said that the copies of the petitions will be provided to the Central Bureau of Investigation’s counsel.
The High Court had on October 9 declared the Jammu and Kashmir State Lands Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants Act, popularly known as the Roshni Act, “illegal, unconstitutional and unsustainable” and ordered the CBI to inquire into the allotment of land under this legislation.
The Act was enacted in 2001 by the Farooq Abdullah-led government. It proposed to transfer ownership of state land to its occupants for a fee determined by the government. Money from these transfers was to fund power projects in Jammu and Kashmir – earning it the moniker, “Roshni Act”.
A petition filed by Special Secretary in Revenue Department Nazir Ahmad Thakur on December 4 sought modification of the nearly two-month-old judgement. Thakur pleaded that a large number of common people in the region, including landless cultivators and nomadic communities, would “suffer unintentionally” as they would be pushed to homelessness.
For years, transactions under the law have been plagued by allegations of corruption and challenged in court. According to popular opinion, land allocations under the Act favoured political elites and powerful officials.
However, several allocations were also made to poor families who had occupied state land for years. This is especially true of the largely Muslim nomadic Gujjar and Bakarwal communities, who have historically been poor and landless.