MHA amends Migrants Immovable Property Act, empowers Competent Authority for suo moto action

Avtar Bhat
JAMMU, Apr 1: Amending the Jammu and Kashmir Migrant Immovable Property (Prevention, Protection and Restrain on Distress) Sale Act passed by the J&K Legislature in 1997, the Union Government through a notification has empowered the Competent Authority to take suo moto action to evict unauthorized occupation of migrants left over property in Kashmir valley.
The Union Government though a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Order on Domicile law yesterday amended some clauses of earlier laws in force in the erstwhile J&K State which included Migrants Immovable Property Act 1997. Through the amendment, the Union Government has omitted Sub-Section 2 of Section 6 of earlier Act, which empowered the Competent Authority to initiave action on basis of a complaint, and now inserted a new para stating that the Competent Authority shall prepare the details of immovable property of migrants in such format ,as may be prescribed and take appropriate action to evict unauthorized occupant of such migrant property including such action as provided in Section 5 of the earlier Act.
Section 5 of the earlier Act which was passed during Dr Farooq Abdullah Government says that if any unauthorized occupant of any migrant property refuses or fails to surrender possession, the Competent Authority may use force for taking possession and evict the such occupant from the property.
However, after formation of the Act by the then J&K Government the distress sale and encroachment continued unabated as the earlier law had certain lacunas. Though the concerned District Development Commissioners were made custodians of migrants’ immovable property in Valley under the earlier Act but they failed to take action and restore the migrants land occupied forcibly or sold under distress.
However, now the competent authorities under the amended law can take suo moto action, prepare the details of migrants’ immovable property in a prescribed format and evict the unauthorized occupant of such property.
It may be recalled that various migrant organizations from time to time after enactment of Distress Sale Act in 1997 had made many representations before the State as well as Central Governments that the sale and illegal occupation of migrants immovable property goes unabated in Valley and the concerned authorities have failed to implement the Act in letter and spirit to protect the property of displaced people from Valley. Even there was a forceful demand from migrants to declare all distress sale by migrants over the years null and void as the Act in force had failed to protect the same.
Recently during their meeting with Union Home Minister, Amit Shah in Delhi a group of Kashmiri Pandit leaders had also put the demand before him stating that the migrants land and other immovable property has been either forcibly occupied in the Valley during the turmoil period or has been sold by some people under distress.
The delegation had also alleged that the successive Governments since 1990 failed to restore the land and other immovable property of migrants which could have been one of the reasons for the MHA to amend the Act to give it more teeth and ensure the protection of left over immovable property of Kashmiri migrants in Valley.