CPI (Marxist) leader Mohammed Yusuf Tarigami has approached the Supreme Court challenging the Union Home Ministry order which allows people from across the country to buy land in Jammu and Kashmir, including land for agricultural purposes.
According to LiveLaw, the application moved by the leader has sought for declaration of the changes made to Article 370 of the Constitution of India making the State of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories as “unconstitutional, void and inoperative.” The plea also sought the apex court’s intervention and a stay on the MHA order dated October 26, 2020 affecting a new land policy until the petition is heard.
Mohammad Tarigami has pleaded that this notification was issued by the Central Government in pursuance of powers under Section 96 of the J&K Reorganisation Act that empowers the Central Government to adapt laws.
Submitting that the Instrument of Accession empowers the Central Government to prefer orders relating to defence, external affairs and other ancillary matters, the application states that, “Matter relating to land use, transfer thereof and the broader matters relating to revenue were well within the powers of the state till the Presidential Orders dated August 5, 2019 (withdrawing J&K’s special status) and the passing of the Jammu and Kashmir (Reorganisation of State) Act, 2019.”
He therefore, contended that the notification of MHA is illegal as it has been issued in pursuance to powers accorded to the Central Government under a statute which itself is “unconstitutional, void and unsustainable and therefore liable to be struck down.”
The plea states that several constitutional provisions existed to safeguard the rights and identity of the region’s permanent and local residents, such as the J&K Alienation of Land Act, J&K Big Landed Estates Abolition Act, J&K Common Lands (Regulation) Act, J&K Land Grants Act and J&K Agrarian Reforms Act.
With this Central Government order in place, he argues, will effectively lead to the repeal of a few aforementioned statutes. It has also allowed for grant of land to non-permanent residents and has also shifted the power of approving the change of land use and utilization of village commons from elected representative to the District Collector.
Further, it has been submitted that the amendment will also allow any non-resident to buy agricultural land and to use it for commercial purposes with the permission of the Government, while the erstwhile law had been aimed at protecting farm land, that provided lifeblood to people of J&K, from commercialization.
LiveLaw reported that the Application concludes, “If the decommissioning or deoperationalising of the Articles 370 and 35A are unconstitutional, it is submitted that the amendments and changes sought to be made vide notification dated October 26, 2020 are also unconstitutional as the Central Government derives power from Section 96 of the J&K Reorganisation Act that was enacted subsequent to the issuance of Presidential Orders dated August 5, 2019 and August 6, 2019 whereby Articles 370 and 35A were decommissioned.”
The notification of this land law, had evoked strong reactions from Opposition leaders terming this as an attempt to put Jammu and Kashmir up for sale.