Context: People as well as investors outside Jammu and Kashmir can now purchase land in the Union Territory (UT) as the Centre notified new land laws for the region, ending the exclusive rights of locals over the land granted under now abrogated Article 370.

J&K Development Act

  • The introduction of the UT of J&K Reorganisation (Adaptation of Central Laws) by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has resulted in the repeal of at least 11 land laws in vogue in J&K.
  • Under the ‘transfer of land for the purpose of promotion of healthcare or education’, the government may now allow transfer of land “in favour of a person or an institution for the purpose of promotion of healthcare or senior secondary or higher or specialized education in J&K”.
  • Only agriculturists of J&K can purchase agricultural land. 
    • No sale, gift, exchange, or mortgage of the land shall be valid in favour of a person who is not an agriculturist.
    • No land used for agriculture purposes shall be used for any non-agricultural purposes except with the permission of the district collector”
  • Under a new provision, an Army officer not below the rank of Corps Commander can declare an area as “Strategic Area” within a local area, only for direct operational and training requirements of the armed forces.

Rationale behind: The Centre has been arguing that Article 370 hampered development in the U.T. as investors were unable to purchase land prior to August 5, 2019.The Centre is likely to notify separate land laws for the UT of Ladakh soon.

Opposition: Political parties, including the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) opposed the move.

Image source: The Hindu