Why is it in News ?
The J&K High Court has declared Roshni Act “illegal, unconstitutional and unsustainable” and a CBI probe has been ordered into the allotment of land under this law.
What is the Roshni Act and its background?
- The J&K State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001 is popularly known as the Roshni Act.
- It envisaged the transfer of ownership rights of state land to its occupants, subject to the payment of a cost, as determined by the government.
- It set 1990 as the cut-off for encroachment on state land.
- The government’s target was to earn Rs 25,000 crore by transferring 20 lakh kanals (one-eighth of an acre) of state land to existing occupants against payment at market rates.
- The government said the revenue generated would be spent on commissioning hydroelectric power projects, hence the name “Roshni”.
What is the recent controversy?
- In October this year, the High Court held the Roshni Act as ‘unconstitutional’.
- The court also directed the UT government to make public names of those who grabbed the land under the scheme.
- Last week, the UT government began publishing the names of beneficiaries on its websites.
- The first set of names included prominent politicians and their relatives, hotels, and a trust connected each to the dominant parties of the Gupkar declaration.
What are the irregularities associated with it ?
- Investigations into the land transfers subsequently found that land in Gulmarg had been given over to ineligible beneficiaries.
- However several government officials illegally possessed and vested ownership of state land to occupants who did not satisfy criteria under the Roshni Act.
- A report by the CAG estimated that against the targeted Rs 25,000 crore, only Rs 76 crore had been realized from the transfer of land between 2007 and 2013, thus defeating the purpose.
- The report blamed irregularities including arbitrary reduction in prices fixed by a standing committee, and said this was done to benefit politicians and affluent people.