The Ministry of Home Affairs introduced major reforms to land laws in Jammu and Kashmir on October 26. This order namely, The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of State Laws) Fifth Order, 2020, repealed 12 state laws and made amendment to 14 other laws, many of which dealt with selling and buying of land in the UT.
This order formally ended the protections on land rights guaranteed under Article 35A which got repealed last year. The Article 35A enabled permanent residents of the J&K to have certain rights for them which are generally not available to other states of the nation. Among many other things, this article prohibited outsiders from buying land in J&K. This was done under the noble sense of preserving J&K’s culture from outsiders.
Rules of the latest order are applied only to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and not to Ladakh as it has become a separate Union Territory with bifurcation of the state. It is interesting to note that Ladakh also enjoyed Article 35A with J&K as a part of it.
But as the government stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its special laws, on the other hand, the government is discussing the sixth schedule of constitution with the Ladakhi leaders which will restore Ladakh’s power to prohibit outsiders from buying land there.
There are four major land laws in Jammu and Kashmir which preserve the land in the hands of permanent residents. These are:
1. The Jammu and Kashmir Alienation of Land Act, 1938
2. The Big Landed Estates Abolition Act, 1950
3. The Jammu and Kashmir Land Grants Act, 1960
4. The Jammu and Kashmir Agrarian Reforms Act, 1976
The first two laws have been abolished. The other two have been modified to delete the “permanent resident” clause in sections dealing with the lease and transfer of the land.
The Jammu and Kashmir Development Act of 1970 has been exercised by the government in pushing the amendments. One amendment promises that the “Development Zone” declared by the government through latest notification will not be subject to any existing land laws.
Earlier to acquire land, the development authorities would exercise the Land Acquisition Act, 1990 which prohibited any non-permanent resident of J&K from leasing land for residential purposes. As of now, the land will be acquired under the Central Law which is free of any such condition.
Jammu and Kashmir Industrial Development Corporation is enabled by a new provision in the development act. This corporation will manage the industrial estate. It may rely on developers or develop these industrial estates itself. The government’s main focus is to prepare these areas for setting up Industries. The Corporation will have the power to buy, sell or lease any property.