Srinagar, Oct 27: The BJP-led central government has amended the land laws enacted by the legislature of erstwhile State of Jammu & Kashmir, allowing non-locals to purchase land other than agricultural land in the Union Territory.
According to news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), the amendments prohibit non-agriculturists from purchasing agricultural land as these only allow agriculturists of the UT to be notified by administration to purchase such land. But no restriction has been imposed on sale of other than agricultural land, implying that non-locals (who were not permanent residents of J&K before August 5, 2019) can purchase commercial land in urban areas. The legal framework has been unveiled days before the first anniversary of the re-organisation of erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir into two Union Territories. Before August 5, 2019, non- state subjects couldn’t purchase land or other property in J&K.
On Monday evening, the Union Home Ministry unveiled “The Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation (adaptation of state laws) fifth order, 2020 to notify adaptations and modifications in the laws.”
According to amendments made in “The Jammu & Kashmir Land Revenue Act, Samvat, 1996”, only agriculturists of Jammu & Kashmir can purchase agricultural land in the UT as amendments made by the Ministry of Home Affairs clearly state that no sale, gift, exchange, or mortgage of the land shall be valid in favour of a person who is not an agriculturist.
These provisions are applicable to the land recorded as agricultural land including village abadideh, by whatever name called, in the revenue records being used for agriculture purposes or for purposes subservient to agriculture or for pasture or being used for residential purposes in rural areas.
The law defines agriculturists as the persons cultivating land personally in the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir as on such date as may be notified by the government.
It also empowers the government to define agriculturists, as it states that agriculturist means such category persons as may be notified by government from time to time.
But at the same time, the law empowers the government to grant permission to an agriculturist to alienate the land to a non-agriculturist by way of sale, gift, exchange or mortgage or for such agreement on such conditions as may be prescribed.
So it means even agricultural land can be transferred to non-locals after proper permission from government.
According to the amendments, these restrictions shall not be applicable to land in favour of public trust for charitable purposes, promotion of healthcare or education, industrial, commercial, housing or agriculture purposes or any other public purpose as may be notified by the government of J&K.
These restrictions also don’t bar transfer of land in favour of a landless person or a village artisan as per eligibility, residency conditions and procedure to be prescribed and notified by the government, any Government and a company or a corporation or a Board established by or under a statute and owned and controlled by the government or a government Company as defined in the Companies Act, 2013.
These restrictions also don’t bar lease of land or any other arrangement for entering into a farming or production agreement under the provisions of any law for the time being in force for the purpose of promotion of agriculture and improvement of land.
The law also states that no land used for agriculture purposes shall be used for any non-agricultural purposes except with the permission of the district collector. “Provided further that holder of any agriculture land may construct a residential house or erect farm building, grain storage, primary processing of agriculture produce, wells or tanks or make any other improvements thereon for residential purpose or agricultural improvement, on intimation to the Tehsildar concerned, however, the plinth area of such building or improvement shall not exceed four hundred square meters in agricultural land,” it states—(KNO)