More than a month after its announcement of implementing the High Court’s judgment on Roshni scheme, the government has moved a plea before the top court, common to J&K and Ladakh, for a review of the October 9 verdict .
In between the time, the CBI formally took over the investigation filing three cases even as the government published on its website the list of the beneficiaries under the Act, declared as null and void by the court.
The first lists, released just before the district body polls started, included senior Valley politicians and they were accused of being beneficiaries of the Act. The politicians had denied the allegation.
The government affidavit, moved on December 4, has now sought modification of the court order, saying it may “unintentionally” affect a large number of poor people.
The affidavit urged the court “to come up with appropriate mechanisms” to enable the poor beneficiaries to retain their plots “subject to an appropriate ceiling and on payment at an appropriate rate”.
The law, formally titled the Jammu and Kashmir State Land (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001, was enacted by the National Conference government of the day, to regularise both encroached and leased government lands. The original cut-off date of 1990 was extended by subsequent governments. Two years ago, then Governor Satya Pal Malik halted the further implementation of the Act which was finally struck down by the High Court.
After having declared to implement the verdict and making the announcement on retrieving state lands from the beneficiaries “expeditiously”, the government now seeks two things from court which is likened at protecting a political constituency. The government seeks to modify its order to differentiate between “rich and influential’ beneficiaries and the “common people” who might be rendered landless or homeless, though it must know only too well that any such a distinction would be arbitrary, discriminatory and bad in law. The law is clear that every citizen is equal before the law. The government instead of flip flop which undermines trust in the credibility of the decision-making must avoid politicizing the scheme and investigation. Also it should not be linked, directly or indirectly, as an attempt to execute the ideology agenda of a particular party. Unfortunately, the invalidation of the legislation, meant to raise Rs 25000 crores for buying hydropower projects from NHPC, and the investigation into it is invited both the accusations.
It is imperative thus that the investigation is taken to the logical conclusion while all doubts need to be dispelled rather than propelled during the course.