No coercive action against those challenging Roshni Act judgement: J-K admin told SC

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The Jammu and Kashmir administration told the Supreme Court on Monday that no coercive action would be taken against those persons who have approached the top court against the high court verdict of scrapping the Roshni Act of 2001.

A bench of Justices N V Ramana, Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose was informed by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Jammu and Kashmir administration that the review petition against the high court’s October 9 verdict is pending there and would be taken up on Thursday.

The bench noted the submission that the pending review petition was yet to come up before the high court and granted liberty to petitioners to mention the matter thereafter.

On December 10, Solicitor General had said that no coercive action would be taken against those petitioners who have approached the top court in the matter as they were not “land grabbers or unauthorised people”.

The top court had asked the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to decide the pleas seeking review of the verdict scrapping the Roshni Act, which had conferred proprietary rights on the occupants of the state land.

Six pleas were listed for hearing in the top court today and as per Mehta’s oral submission, the protection would cover Broadway Enterprises Pvt. Ltd, Nisar Hussain, Danish Aman, Hakim Suhail, Muhammed Muzaffar Shawl, Tejinder Singh Sethi, along with some other co-petitioners.

On 10 December order, the apex court had said that it had come to know that review petitions had been filed by Jammu and Kashmir Government, as well as by some private individuals before the high court and the hearing was coming in the last week of December. Thereafter, it had adjourned the matter for further hearing to the last week of January 2021.

Mehta informed the apex court that Jammu and Kashmir government had already filed a review petition in the high court, had said the authority was “not against bonafide and common people who are not land grabbers”.

The top court had also clarified that the pendency of these special leave petitions before it would not come in the way of hearing of review petitions by the high court. It had granted liberty to the petitioners before the top court to also file review petition(s), if any, before the high court.

On 7 December, the high court had adjourned the hearing on a petition filed by the administration seeking a review of its earlier order scrapping the Roshni Act in totality.

The petition, filed by Revenue Department Special Secretary Nazir Ahmad Thakur on 4 December for modification of the judgment, has pleaded that a large number of common people, including landless cultivators and individuals who are themselves residing in dwellings on small areas, would suffer unintentionally.

The Roshni Act initially envisaged conferment of proprietary rights of around 20.55 lakh kanals (102,750 hectares) to the occupants, out of which only 15.85 percent of land was approved for vesting of ownership rights.

The Roshni Act was enacted in 2001 with the twin objective of generating resources for financing power projects and conferment of proprietary rights to the occupants of state land.

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court had on 9 October declared the Act “illegal, unconstitutional and unsustainable”, and ordered a CBI probe into the allotment of land under this law. (KNS)

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