NEARLY TWO months after declaring the Jammu and Kashmir State Land (Vesting of Ownership to Occupants) Act, 2001 – also called Roshni Act – as void ab initio and cancelling all the land transfers done under it, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court has said that the erstwhile leaseholders of state land who too had availed benefits of the legislation will, however, continue to occupy it on the basis of “expired lease”.
The court order came on December 4 when UT Home Secretary Shaleen Kabra sought adjournment in a PIL filed by Prof S K Bhalla to make submissions pertaining to civil miscellaneous applications filed by some people who claimed they were originally allotted land on lease hold basis and, on its expiry, they were made to apply under Roshni Act for vesting of ownership rights.
“We make it clear that because of the enactment being declared unconstitutional, the position as on date of coming into force of this Act or on the date of transfers under the Jammu and Kashmir State Land (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act 2001 would stand restored,” observed a division bench of then Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rajesh Bindal.
“To elucidate, if on these dates, an individual was in occupation of state land and if the land in question had been originally given on leases which are expired, then the person would be occupying under the expired leases,” it said.
The bench said that no benefit or claim of any kind “shall enure in favour” of any individual because of an order under the Jammu and Kashmir State Land (Vesting of Ownership to Occupants) Act 2001, or because continuation of occupation/possession on account of such order. “Once a person had made claim under the Roshni Act, no benefit or claim of adverse possession would flow in favour of the individual on account of possession under the Roshni Act,” it said.