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Focus: GS-II Polity and Governance

Why in news?

In the face of growing anxiety and protests in regions of Jammu and Kashmir, the J&K administration said the recently introduced land laws “will afford protection to over 90% of the land in the Union Territory (UT)” as the previous laws were “anti-people”.

Explanation given to justify the move

  • 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of land were different in different laws and the ceiling of 182 kanals fixed in Big Landed Estates Abolition Act was superseded by 100 standard kanals in the Agrarian Reforms act, 1976, yet both provisions continued to coexist creating contradiction and confusion.
  • 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. No agricultural land can be transferred to any person from outside the UT of J&K.
  • The administration has set up a Board of Revenue to “regulate use of land, alienation and conversion, land lease, consolidation and contract farming”.

More about the Recently Introduced Land Laws in Jammu and Kashmir

  • People as well as investors outside Jammu and Kashmir can now purchase land in the Union Territory (UT) as the Centre notified new land laws for the region, ending the exclusive rights of locals over the land granted under now abrogated Article 370.
  • Under the newly introduced J&K Development Act, the term “being permanent resident of the State” as a criterion has been “omitted”, paving the way for investors outside J&K to invest in the UT.
  • The Centre has been arguing that Article 370 hampered development in the U.T. as investors were unable to purchase land prior to August 5, 2019.
  • The Centre is likely to notify separate land laws for the UT of Ladakh soon.
  • Under a new provision, an Army officer not below the rank of Corps Commander can declare an area as “Strategic Area” within a local area, only for direct operational and training requirements of the armed forces.
  • Prior to the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act Indian citizens from other states could not purchase land or property in Jammu and Kashmir.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023