Observing that the land mafia is the biggest beneficiary of the scrapped Roshni scheme, the Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to entertain a plea against a Jammu and Kashmir government circular directing all Deputy Commissioners to remove encroachments on Union Territory land, including Roshni land and Kachharie land, by January 31.

A bench of Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna was unconvinced with the argument of the petitioners that despite the Jammu & Kashmir State Land (Vesting of Ownership to Occupants) Act, 2001 (popularly known as the Roshni Act) being repealed, their ownership rights persisted.

Supreme Court of India

Noting that various 'big shots' are beneficiaries of the now-scrapped Roshni scheme, the Supreme Court dismissed the petition against the ongoing anti-encroachment drive in Jammu and Kashmir.

The court was hearing a plea filed by Akbar Rashid and five others from the Dodasan area of Rajouri district, seeking a stay on a circular issued by the Jammu & Kashmir government on January 9 that directed the removal of all encroachment on land owned by UT.

The six petitioners, represented by Advocate Muzaffar Khan, were served notices under the drive and had moved the Supreme Court, which had ordered a status quo on the demolition of their shops till January 31.

On Tuesday, when the matter came for hearing, the Court came down heavily on petitioners, asking them 'not to take shelter of other tribals'.

Noting that the petitioners do not have any document of title conferred on them, the court allowed them to withdraw the plea which they did follow and the bench dismissed the petition as withdrawn.

Earlier SC refused to grant a stay

The Supreme Court on January 21 refused to stay a circular issued by Jammu & Kashmir government to remove encroachments on State land including Roshni land and Kachharie land by January 31.

The Court, however, expressed its disinclination in not passing an order today, it orally asked the Union Territory administration to not demolish any houses.

The Court observed said they are not passing any orders today. "You instruct them orally not to demolish any houses. But we will not grant a general stay. Others should not get the benefit," the bench orally told the counsel of J&K.

During the hearing, the advocate for the petitioner argued that many tribals are residing on the land and took the Court through the reliefs prayed for.

"If a stay is granted then it will benefit land grabbers also?", Justice Shah asked.

The counsel appearing for the Union Territory clarified that the circular is mainly focused on the Roshni land and also questioned the locus of the applicants.

Anti-encroachment drive in J&K

January 31 is the deadline for retrieving all state lands

The Jammu and Kashmir administration has ordered all the Deputy Commissioners (DCs) to ensure 100% removal of encroachments from state land, including Roshni and Kahcharai by January 31.

"The department has issued instructions from time to time and, further, in pursuance to the meeting held on 15.12.2022 through virtual mode under the chairmanship of the Commissioner/Secretary to the Government, Revenue Department, it has been directed that all Deputy Commissioners (DCs) shall ensure that all encroachments on State land including Roshni and Kahcharai land are removed to the extent of 100% by January 31, 2023," reads an order issued by Vijay Kumar Bidhuri, Commissioner Secretary to the Government.