The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Monday made public on its website the list of land beneficiaries under Roshni Act. The list was published in accordance with the court order and the beneficiaries included former state ministers, retired civil servants and politicians.
The list names former J&K Finance Minister Haseeb Draboo, Congress leader and hotelier KK Amla, Business Tycoon Mushtaq Ahmad Chaya, retired IAS officer Mohd Shafi Pandit and several others as land beneficiaries of the ‘illegal’ Roshni Act.
Details Of State Land Under Roshni Act To Be Disclosed In Pursuance To Honble High Court Directions Issued In Pil No 19 Of 2011 Titled S. K. Bhalla Vs State And Others And Other Connected Matters Dated 9.10.2010. pic.twitter.com/hGpSPBGUNm— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) November 24, 2020
Besides, the list which is prepared on the directions of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court also names former Congress minister and ex-Doda MLA Abdul Majid Wani and former chairman of J&K Bank M Y Khan.
As per reports, former J and K CM Farooq Abdullah has also been named as one of the beneficiaries of the Roshni Act where influential and politically connected people had received lands. Abdullah had encroached upon government land in Sunjawan in Jammu. His private residence is built upon government land, as per the details put by the J and K administration.
Former J&K CM Farooq named as beneficiary of land given away to influential people in Roshni scam. As per details put out by J&K admn, he encroached upon govt land at Sunjwan in Jammu. The pvt residence built by him is on state/forest land— Bharti Jain (@bhartijainTOI) November 24, 2020
As reported by TOI’s Bharti Jain, in 1998, Abdullah had bought 3 kanals of land from private owners. However, while taking possession, he had also encroached upon 7 kanals of forest land and government land in the surrounding areas. The present worth of those lands is estimated at around 10 crores.
The Divisional Commissioners in Jammu and Kashmir, who regularly supervise the progress on the cancellation of mutations of land transferred under the Roshni Act in the districts, have asked the deputy commissioners to submit the details of the beneficiaries at the earliest. They have also asked their subordinates to carry out verification of influential people on the list so that the names can be published on the website. The list will be regularly updated on the Jammu and Kashmir website and some big political leaders might soon figure in the list.
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court pronounced the Roshni Act as “illegal, unconstitutional and unsustainable” and ordered a CBI probe into the allotment of land under this Act. The CBI had registered four cases in this regard so far.
CBI files a fifth case in connection with the illegal Act
The Premier Investigative Agency had filed another case in connection with the now illegal Roshni Act, this time against the then-District Collector of Jammu and others for alleged illegal grant of ownership of land parcels.
The case was first set in motion by the then Vigilance Organisation in Jammu and Kashmir in 2014. The Organisation had then named District Collector Hirdesh Kumar Singh and one Bashir Ahmed as accused, along with unknown officials of the Revenue Department in Jammu. The Organisation had alleged irregularities in the implementation of the Jammu and Kashmir States Land (vesting of ownership to the occupants) Act, also known as Roshini Act.
Singh had reportedly ordered the bestowing of ownership to the beneficiary Bashir Ahmed in October 2020. Later, the land was transferred under Ahmed’s name under the agriculture category. During the investigation, the officials found that the land transferred to Ahmed did not belong to that category. Also, a part of land was not shown on paper.
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court deems the Roshni Act ‘Illegal’
The Roshni Act which was declared ‘null and void’ in October 2020 is pegged to be the biggest scam in the history of Jammu and Kashmir. Under the act, disproportionate concessions were extended for regularisation of land conversion at a substantially lower charge than the stipulated rates and the cut-off year kept getting shifted.
The Court issued an order on October 31, 2020, in which it alleged that thousands of acres of forest land and government land was illegally occupied, encroached and usurped by the influential politicians, businessmen, bureaucrats and judicial officers all over the State, under the Act that was passed by the Farooq Abdullah government in 2001.
The legislation introduced by the National Conference in 200 proposed that ownership rights be accorded to people who held State land till 1990 without having any authorised documents to claim their proprietary, on payment of the cost equivalent to the prevailing market rate in 1990.
The state government expected to rack up over Rs 25,000 crores as regularisation fee, which was to be used for generating electricity through hydro projects. This is where the Act derived its name ‘Roshni’ from. However, later, as the governments in the state changed, the cut-off dates from 1990 kept getting shifted. Initially, the PDP government in 2005 shifted the cut-off year to 2004 and later the Congress government pushed it even further to 2007.
As per the Comptroller and General, an Act which was supposed to generate about Rs 25,000 crore for the state government, ended up raising only Rs 76 crore from the transfer of encroached land from 2007 to 2013.