Govt simplifies land acquisition process to give impetus to developmental activities

In order to expedite the land acquisition process for various developmental activities and to avoid the litigations, Government has simplified the procedure by erasing several channels for submission of cases for recording satisfaction of the Administrative Revenue Department.
Official sources told that for acquiring land for any developmental activity in the State, the procedure prescribed under Jammu and Kashmir Land Acquisition Act is required to be followed so as to ensure that no hurdle crops up at the stage of execution. Before acquisition of land, notifications are required to be issued under Sections 4, 5, 6, 7 and 17 of the Act and then compensation is awarded to the land owners.
In the year 2009, the then Government issued SRO No.235 dated August 11, 2009 prescribing the channels to be followed for submission of cases to the Administrative Department for recording satisfaction of the Government. As per this SRO, the cases involving compensation beyond Rs one crore were required to be routed through Deputy Commissioner, Divisional Commissioner and Financial Commissioner Revenue for placement before the Administrative Department and Minister Incharge Revenue.
Moreover, Vide SRO No.235 of 2009, the Financial Commissioner Revenue was given powers to decide the compensation up to the ceiling of Rs 3 crore while as Divisional Commissioners’ powers were restricted to the cases involving compensation up to Rs 2 crore. Similarly, the Deputy Commissioners were given powers to decide the compensation up to ceiling of Rs 1 crore.
However, it came to the fore that this channel of forwarding the cases to the Administrative Department for recording satisfaction of the Government was causing delay in settlement of land acquisition cases and subsequent dis-satisfaction among the land owners over the amount of compensation besides their other grievances, sources said, adding inordinate delay in award of compensation to the land owners was also resulting into numerous litigations in the courts of law.
Keeping in view all the related aspects, the Government has simplified the process of submission of cases to the Administrative Department by rescinding the SRO-235 of 2009 and issuing SRO No.25 of 2016.
“Henceforth all cases of land acquisition seeking issuance of declaration under Sections 6 and 7 of the Land Acquisition Act, shall, invariable be referred to the Administrative (Revenue) Department irrespective of the quantum of land viz-a-viz valuation involved”, reads the order dated February 2, 2016 issued by the Secretary to Government, Revenue Department.
By way of this order, it has been enjoined upon all the concerned officers that declaration, if any, issued or pending with any of the offices-Financial Commissioner Revenue, Divisional Commissioners of Jammu/Kashmir and all the Deputy Commissioners be withdrawn and cases referred to the Administrative Department for recording satisfaction of the Government and issuance of fresh declaration thereof by the competent authority. However, the powers of deciding the compensation will remain the same as was earlier.
When contacted, an officer of the Revenue Department told  that it was coming to the notice of the Administrative Department that provisions of the Land Acquisition Act were not being strictly followed while issuing declarations under Sections 6 and 7. “The concerned authorities were not seeking the satisfaction of the Government before issuance of declarations, which was otherwise imperative”, he further said, adding “moreover, the channel of submission of cases to the Government was very lengthy and time consuming”.
“Numerous such cases came to be challenged in the courts of law, which quashed all the previous proceedings conducted under Land Acquisition Act and issued directions for conducting entire process afresh”, he said, adding “this resulted into unnecessary burden on the State exchequer in the shape of enhanced compensation besides creating embarrassment for the Government before the courts of law”.
Even in the State High Court in a petition titled Zakir Hussain Versus State of J&K had asked the Government for looking into this aspect for initiating corrective measures, he said, adding “the decision of rescinding the SRO-235 has been taken on the suggestion of the Advocate General”.
“We are in the process of carrying out necessary amendments in the Land Acquisition Act so as to avoid delays in acquiring land for developmental activities and new SRO is an interim arrangement to achieve the objective”, he further said.

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