On October 31, the Jammu and Kashmir government declared the State Land (Vesting Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001, null and void. The law, which had proposed to transfer ownership of state land to its occupants for a fee determined by the government, was popularly known as the Roshni Act, as the proceeds from these transactions were to fund power projects in Jammu and Kashmir.

Transactions under the Roshni Act had already been halted in 2018, as Jammu and Kashmir went under governor’s rule. Then Governor Satya Pal Malik had pronounced the law “no longer relevant”. And that was before the state was stripped of special status under Article 370 and split into two Union Territories.

On October 9, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court pronounced the Roshni Act “completely unconstitutional, contrary to law and unsustainable” and ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation probe on the “land scam” enabled by the law.

Passed by the government of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir, it has long been plagued by allegations of corruption. According to popular opinion, land allocations by the government had favoured influential bureaucrats, politicians and police officers. It was also absorbed into an increasingly communalised rhetoric by rightwing groups such as IkkJutt...

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