Under new Land Laws Agricultural land can only be sold to agriculturists from within J&K
More than 90% land cannot be sold to outsiders
11 Land Laws repealed, Regressive & outdated provisions removed,
Government has repealed 11 Land Laws that existed in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir replacing the old, regressive, intrinsically contradictory and outdated laws with a set of modern, progressive and people friendly provisions. The new land laws will not only afford protection to over 90% of the land in J&K from being alienated to outsiders but will also help revamp the agriculture sector foster, rapid industrialization, aid economic growth and create jobs in J&K.
This was stated by the Principal Secretary, Information and government spokesman, Rohit Kansal at a press conference in Jammu today. Kansal made these comments while interacting with the media on a host of issues related to the UT of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of State Laws) Fifth Order, 2020.
Elaborating, Kansal remarked that the repealed laws were made to serve the old agrarian based economy and were required to be modified for modern economic needs.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. For instance, A number of Laws had contradictions leading to scope for discretionary interpretation and rent seeking e.g. ‘Family’ was defined differently in different laws, provision of alienation and conversion of land were different in different Laws and the ceiling of 182 kanals fixed in Big Landed Estates Abolition Act was superseded by 100 standard kanals in the Agrarian Reforms act, 1976, yet both provisions continued to coexist creating contradiction and confusion.
The Prohibition of Conversion of Land and Alienation of Orchards Act, 1975 not only prohibited alienation of orchard lands; it surprisingly restricted creation of new orchards too. Similarly, 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 off his own property.
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. To begin with, no agricultural land can be transferred to any person from outside the UT of J&K but can only be sold to an agriculturist from within J&K. 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. Agriculturist has been defined as “.. a person who cultivates land personally in the UT of J&K..”. The safeguard on agricultural land alone would ensure that more than 90 percent of land in the UT which is an agricultural land remains protected and with the people of J&K.
The new provisions not only address the infirmities in the old set of laws but also provide for modern and enabling provisions to aid in the agricultural and industrial growth of the UT of J&K. While progressive provisions of the repealed laws have been retained by including them in the modified Land Revenue Act, new provisions have been added to modernize existing laws. 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 Board of Revenue comprising senior officers will not only be the Developing Authority for preparing regional plans but can notify a scheme of consolidation of land holdings and also a scheme for restricting and regulating the fragmentation of agricultural land holdings to make agriculture viable.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
• UT of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of State Laws) Fifth Order, 2020- a number of changes have been made in the existing laws, particularly, laws related to land management
• 11 old laws have been repealed and 4 major laws modified
• Variety of reactions from political parties and others- “ J&K on sale”..” no protection in J&K like in other states”
• Lot of misinformation or perhaps lack of clarity
What are the changes…Which Acts or laws repealed and why … what are the modifications… What are the safeguards?
• First we need to understand the many of the Old/existing laws were actually a product of their times- were made to serve the old agrarian based economy.
• They were outdated and suffered from ambiguities and contradictions
• In many cases these laws were clearly regressive.
• There was lot of scope for discretionary interpretation and corruption
• Some examples
➢ Ceiling of 182 kanals fixed in Big Landed Estates Abolition Act was superseded by 100 standard kanals in the Agrarian Reforms Act, 1976, yet both provisions continued to coexist creating contradiction and confusion.
➢ Similarly, the old Agrarian Reforms Act prohibited the selling of land distributed to tillers even after 44 years- this was leading to benami transactions and restricting next generations
➢ Tenancy ended under Agrarian Reforms Act, 1976 but Tenancy Stay of Ejectment Proceedings Act, 1966 continues
➢ The Prohibition of Conversion of Land and Alienation of Orchards Act, 1975 not only prohibited alienation of orchard lands; it surprisingly restricted creation of new orchards too
1. To plant a new orchard govt permission was needed
➢ The Right of Prior Purchase Act severely constrained an owner’s right to dispose of his own property- neighbors and other had rights to restrict- both in urban and rural properties
➢ ‘Family’ was defined differently in different laws,
➢ Provision of alienation and conversion of land were different in different Laws
➢ Need to make Land Laws simpler to avoid litigation, corruption and contradictions
SALIENT FEATURES OF AMENDMENTS
Which are the Laws repealed and why?
➢ 11 Laws repealed
• They were either redundant or obsolete
• However, progressive or relevant clauses of each of these Acts saved in the New Land Revenue Act. e.g. Sec 20 B of BLEA Act saved as 133 BB of Land Revenue Act- fuel or fodder lands
• Relevant provisions of Consolidation of Holding Act 1962, Land Improvement Scheme 1972, Prevention of Fragmentation of Agricultural Holdings Act 1960- all saved as Section 23 of LR Act
• Alienation of Land Act- all relevant provisions save under 133 A…
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