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Tarigami Moves SC Challenging Home Ministry Order on J&K Land Purchase

The CPI(M) leader and four-time MLA from Kulgam has pleaded that amendments to land laws will "seriously change the land use pattern and will destroy the food security of Jammu and Kashmir".

New Delhi: Veteran Communist party of India (Marxist) leader Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami has approached the Supreme Court challenging an October order of the Union Home Ministry that allows people from across the country to buy land in Jammu & Kashmir, including that meant for agriculture purpose.

Moving a writ petition, the CPI(M) leader sought the apex court's intervention and a stay on the order till his petition is heard.

The petition moved under Article 32 (violation of fundamental rights) submitted that the October notification "is illegal" as it is issued in pursuance to the August 2019 reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir which has been challenged by several people and that the top court is aware of the matter.

It said that Home Ministry has amended sections of the JK Land Revenue Act, 1996 which pertains to management of agricultural land and the JK Development Act, 1970 which deals with zonal development plans determining land use for buildings, roads housing recreation, industry, business, markets, schools, hospitals and public and private open spaces.

Pointing out the amendments in the Act, the petition said that while the fresh laws prohibits the sale of agricultural land to a non-agriculturist, but it "authorises the government or an officer appointed by it to grant permission to an agriculturist to alienate the land to a non-agriculturist by way of sale, gift, exchange or mortgage or for such agreement on such conditions as may be prescribed".

Tarigami pleaded that the change of land use can't be left at the "caprice of bureaucracy more so at the lower rung of district collectors" and said the checks and balances available in the repealed laws need reintroducing in them.

The four-time MLA from Kulgam pleaded that these amendments will "seriously change the land use pattern and will destroy the food security of Jammu and Kashmir".

Tarigami said the laws of the erstwhile state government on land were aimed at protecting the large swathes of farm land that provided life blood to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, from commercialisation.

"This crucial aspect has not been considered by the respondents (MHA) while issuing the notification," the petition said.

In an 111-page notification in Hindi and English, the Home Ministry made several changes to the land laws, including the most important amendment in the Jammu and Kashmir Development Act that deals with disposal of land with the Centre omitting the phrase "permanent resident of the state" from Section 17 of the law.

Before the repeal of Article 370 and Article 35-A in August last year, non-residents could not buy any immovable property in Jammu and Kashmir. The latest changes have paved the way for non-residents to buy land in the Union territory.

The notifications evoked angry reactions from mainstream political parties in J&K who termed the move an attempt by the Centre to "put Jammu and Kashmir up for sale".

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