The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Friday deferred the hearing of a review petition filed by the UT government against its judgment on the Roshni Act to December 16. The court had on October 9 declared the J&K State Land (Vesting of Occupants Ownership) Act 2001, also known as Roshni Act, “void ab initio” and ordered a CBI investigation into all instances of alleged irregularities in the transfer of state lands to private individuals.
As the matter came up before the court, a division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Sanjay Dhar ordered the court’s registry to list all the review petitions and applications filed upto December 15 on the next date of hearing so that all the matters are heard together on December 16.
Sheikh Shakeel, counsel for Prof S K Bhalla, who had originally challenged encroachments on state and forest land by influential people including politicians and bureaucrats said that the CBI also filed its status report in the sealed cover before the court. The Bench opened the cover in the court, perused it and returned it to CBI counsel after sealing the cover.
Ankur Sharma advocate, who had challenged the constitutional validity of the Roshni Act and sought handing over all the cases of irregularities in land transfers to CBI, said that “desperate, insincere attempts of the government in getting the matter decided today bore no fruits’’.
The court had on Tuesday brought forward the date of hearing in the review petition to December 11 after the administration cited urgency in its review petition challenging the high court’s judgement. The CBI is currently investigating into irregularities in the land transfers made under the law.
Additional Advocate General Aseem Sawhney, through an urgent hearing motion, had on Tuesday told the court that the matter needed urgent court intervention as poor and landless people who had also benefited under the Act will be facing the heat along with wealthy and influential people.“We are implementing the Roshni judgment and there is absolutely no issue with regard to that, but at the same time there is disquiet among the masses… poor and landless people. Agriculturalists having one marla or five marla or one kanal land, even they are going to feel the heat. We want to segregate them from the sharks… There are big sharks, influential people, big businessmen, bureaucrats, police officers and politicians, we want to segregate them from the common man,” he told the court.
“We do not want to “unsettle the settled”, Sawhney had said, adding that the government wanted that it may be allowed to lay down a policy differentiating the poor and landless from the influential and rich occupants of state land.