Migrants’ Immovable Property Act

While being forced to flee Kashmir due to the onset of cross border terrorism in 1990 , Kashmir Hindu ethnic community members left behind immovable properties in the form of houses, orchards, agricultural and non agricultural land, etc including in most of the cases , movable properties too. What followed immediately after the ‘migration’ was incidents of blazes of “clusters” of these houses in cities and villages forcing the owners to part with them just for nothing as consideration. In other words, that amounted to distress sale. To discourage this type of usurpation of such properties, an Act was made by the Government to have a proper law to deal with prevention and protection of such properties from being caused to be encroached upon or got by means of a distress sale. This Act was called as Jammu and Kashmir Migrant Immovable Property (Prevention, Protection and Restrain on Distress) Sale and was duly passed by the J&K Legislature in 1997.
Now, the Union Government has brought in an amendment by altering sub-section 2 of section 6 of the said Act. The earlier section, in simpler words, provided an action only when a complaint was made before the District Authority against illegal occupying of the property or the distress sale thereof and the amended section, now makes the concerned competent authority responsive for eviction of such possession by taking a suomoto notice of the same. In other words , now action can be taken by a competent authority without a prior motion or request or complaint from the affected party or parties. The term ‘ unauthorised occupant’ continues to be vague despite the amendment as what about those properties which were sold under distress prior to 1997 ? If that Act was applicable with retrospective effect , how many such properties were released from the illegal occupants? The Act even in amended form,is silent about properties forced to be sold for not even a song when such properties should have fetched , if not the market price, but at least 60 to 70 percent thereof.
The modus operandi adopted used to be only through “irrevocable power of attorney” for distress sale and opportunistic buyingsince sale deeds and their registration were not allowed . The approval sought from the hapless owner used to be besides the power of attorney, threats and coercion too. We have reports that in many cases , complaints were even made to be withdrawn in writing following open harassment and even manhandling of the complainants. Even criminal complaints to intimidate the complainant were, side by side, filed against the complainants for “breach” of trust and rescinding the attorney unilaterally. Usually this worked to harass and force for withdrawal of the complaint. Many such cases resulted ultimately in usurpation of costly properties just for free of cost. There seems to be no remedy in such cases nor any relief to the aggrieved owners in such an amended Act?
Agreed, the amended Migrants Immovable Property Act gives added powers to the competent designated authority in comparison to the earlier relevant un-amended section but more or less, the relief is sought to be provided to those, whose properties are yet not “sold” or are under unauthorised occupants.