No domicile needed: Anyone can now purchase land in J&K

Sale of agriculture land only for education, healthcare

Industrial Dev Corpn to monitor rapid development

Govt to declare strategic areas on GOC’s request

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Oct 27: In a bold decision, the Central Government today opened land of Jammu and Kashmir except agriculture for outsiders for both commercial and residential purposes as it omitted the word “permanent residents of the State’’ by repealing 10 laws pertaining to land and at the same time, extended three Central Laws to the Union Territory including Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act. However, there are several exemptions in the Act which enable transfer of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes, including setting up of educational or health care facilities.

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The Union Ministry of Home Affairs today issued two separate orders for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. In one of the order, anyone can now purchase land in J&K (for commercial, residential or any other purposes), the Government on recommendations of the Army’s Corps Commander can declare an area as ‘Strategic Area’ for direct operational and training requirements of Armed Force and setting up of an Industrial Development Corporation. Through the second order, the Government has ordered implementation of three Central Laws including Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Act, 2002 and Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

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The Central decision on opening Jammu and Kashmir land for outsiders came through an order issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs titled the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization (Adaptation of State Laws) Fifth Order, 2020.
The most significant tweak has been made in the Jammu and Kashmir Development Act that deals with disposal of land in the Union Territory as the Centre has omitted the phrase “permanent residents of the State’’ from Section 17 of the law, which allowed people from anywhere to purchase land in J&K for commercial, residential or any other purposes. The Government feels that it would lead to setting up of industry in all sectors which, in turn, will generate employment opportunities for the youth.
Before August 5, 2019 decisions of the Central Government which had withdrawn special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the erstwhile State into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh, non-residents couldn’t buy any immovable property in Jammu and Kashmir. The residents of the erstwhile State were identified by the State subjects.
The fresh changes have, however, paved the way for non-residents to buy land in the Union Territory. The people will no more need Domicile Certificates, which have replaced the State Subjects in J&K, to purchase the land.
Another significant law which has been repealed by the MHA notification include the J&K Big Landed Estates (Abolition) Act, which was brought in by National Conference patriarch and former Chief Minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah.
In the Gazetted Notification issued today by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, several changes have been made to the land laws, including allowing use of agricultural land for setting up facilities of public purpose.
The amendments, however, didn’t allow transfer of agriculture land to non-agriculturists but there are several exemptions in the Act which enable transfer of agriculture land for non-agricultural purposes including setting up of Public Trust for Charitable Purposes and educational or healthcare facilities.
“No land used for agriculture purpose shall be used for any non-agricultural purposes except with permission of the District Collector,’’ the Gazetted Notification said, adding the permission for conversion of land notified as Saffron belt will be made as per the procedure prescribed under the Jammu and Kashmir Saffron Act, 2007. The holder of agriculture land can, however, construct a residential house or erect farm building, grain storage, primary procession of agriculture produce, wells or tanks or make any other improvement for residential purpose or agricultural improvement on intimation to the concerned Tehsildar.
The Centre has also imposed restrictions on use of grazing land and prohibition on its transfer.
“The land which is in the form of grazing land, arak, kap or kah-i-krisham or which grows fuel or fodder and belongs to such class as is notified by the Government shall not be used for any other purpose except with the permission of the District Collector.
The notification has replaced Section 30 and Part VII of the State Land Acquisition Act of 1990 with the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. The amendment will empower the J&K Government to give handsome compensation to the people for acquiring their land.
The JK Alienation of Land Act, 1995, the JK Common Lands (regulation) Act, 1956 and the JK Consolidation of Holdings Act, 1962 have also been repealed by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Other Laws which have been repealed today include the Jammu and Kashmir Land Improvement Schemes Act, 1972, the Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Fragment of Agricultural Holdings Act, 1960 and the Jammu and Kashmir Tenancy (Stay of Ejectment Proceedings) Act, 1966 including the Jammu and Kashmir Tenancy Act, 1980 and the J&K Utilization of Lands Act, 2010.
The notification also maintained that Government on the written request of an Army officer not below the rank of Corp Commander may declare an area as “strategic area” within a local area, only for direct operational and training requirements of Armed Forces, which may be excluded from the operation of this Act and rules and regulations made there under in the manner and to the extent specified in the declaration.
After satisfying itself, the Government will declare the area recommended by the GOC as “strategic area’’ and notify it accordingly.
As per the notification, there will be Jammu and Kashmir Industrial Development Corporation for the purpose of securing and assisting in rapid establishment and organization of industries in industrial areas and industrial estates in Jammu and Kashmir and for the purpose of establishing commercial centers in connection with establishment and organization of such industries.
The Corporation will have 12 Directors. The Chairman, Vice Chairman and Directors of the Corporation will be nominated by the Government.
The Corporation will also help in establishing commercial centres in connection with the establishment and organization of such industries.
The Corporation shall acquire and hold such property, both movable and immovable, for the performance of any of its activities, and to lease, sell, exchange or otherwise transfer any property held by it on such conditions as may be deemed proper, the notification stated.
It will establish and manage industrial estates, develop industrial areas and make them available for undertakings to establish themselves.
Meanwhile, the notification has replaced Section 30 and Part VII of the State Land Acquisition Act, 1990 with the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.
Explaining the move, sources said the notification was issued with the intent to harmoniously construe the laws with the laws applicable to the rest of India as the permanent resident certificate (PRC) was rendered infructuous with the repeal of the Constitution of J-K on August 5, 2019.
“Post the reorganisation of the state the registering authority could not implement the new registration laws in the absence of a notification or a court order thereby PRC was a pre-requisite for registration of land, this notification has removed that anomaly,” sources said.

Orchardists can also sell land
Among other Acts, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs today also ordered abolition of the Jammu and Kashmir Prohibition of Conversion of Land and Alienation of Orchards Act, 1975.
The abolition of the Act means the orchardists can also sell their land with certain conditions.
This will help owners of the orchards if they wish to sell their land at good rates, which was earlier barred by the Government like the agriculture land.

LG justifies new Land Law
SRINAGAR, Oct 27: Justifying the new land laws, under which anyone can purchase land in Jammu and Kashmir, Lt Governor Manoj Sinha said this was necessary for developing industries in the Union Territory (UT).
Sinha, during a press conference here, said people from any part of the country could purchase land within the Municipal limits in the UT. Replying to a question about the new order issued by the Centre, he said the agricultural land will be protected.
”We want people to set up industries in the J&K, so that the youth could get employment,” he said.

Official’s wife to be treated as domicile
The Central Government today amended the Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services Decentralization and Recruitment Act under which spouse of a domicile official will also be deemed to be a domicile for the purpose of recruitment.
The amendment will benefit number of women who were otherwise not entitled to the Domicile Certificate.