Roshni Scheme Case has been considered as one of the biggest land scam ever in the history of Jammu and Kashmir. It has been observed that this scheme has caused a detriment of almost twenty-five thousand crore rupees to the land of Jammu and Kashmir treasury. The Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act 2001 is also known as Roshni Scheme; it was enacted by the Government of Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah. Roshni Act proposed that the ownership rights of the State could be transferred to its occupants subject to the payment of a cost as decided or determined by the Government. By the word of State Land, it means that the land recorded as such in the Revenue Records and includes any land which has escheated to the Government under the provisions of any law for the time being in force in the State but does not include any Government or State land mentioned in this Section 3 of the Roshni Act. The Roshni Act was formed to earn revenue for commissioning hydroelectric power projects in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and hence it was called the name of ROSHNI. It was done by Farooq Abdullah's Government as the cut off for encroachment on the State land. Various amendments were done to this Act. In the year 2005, the Government of Mufti Mohammed Syed relaxed the cut off a year to 2004. And during the Government of Ghulam Nabi Azad, the relaxation year was made further to the year 2007.
In the year 2009, the State Vigilance Organisations registered an FIR against many government officials and bureaucrats due to the reports of the investigation, which stated that there had been criminal conspiracy regarding the possession and vesting of ownership of State lands to the occupants. The reports further stated that a lot of times, there had been vesting of State lands to occupants in such a manner that does not satisfy the criteria of the Roshni Act. In 2014 a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General states that only seventy-six crore rupees had been observed from the transfer encroached land between 2007 and 2013, whereas the initial target was twenty-five thousand core rupees. At that time, the then Revenue Minister Ajaz Ahmad Khan assented with the investigation report of the Comptroller And Auditor General. He also assured us to look after the drawbacks that were happening due to the Roshni Act. By March 2015, the Vigilance Organizations completed the investigations of five cases regarding this matter, and almost twenty-four officials were found guilty, including three former deputy commissioners.
In the year 2014, Ankur Sharma, an advocate, filed a PIL before the Jammu and Kasmir High Court regarding the Roshni Act. His appeal before the Court was that he wanted the Court to do a thorough inspection into the transfer of land under the Roshni Act. Mr. Ankur Sharma suspected that there were a lot of irregularities, and there was not a fair vision in the allotment system of the State lands, including the throwaway prices to the top politicians, bureaucrats, influential businessmen, and high ranking government officials.
On the 28th of November 2018, The Jammu and Kashmir State Lands(Vesting Of Ownership to the Occupants) Act 2001, which is also known as the Roshni Scheme, stood repealed by the State Administrative Council. It was repealed because it was observed that the Roshni Act never met with its initial aim and objectives, nor it delivered its purposes. A writ petition was filed by a law student regarding this Roshni Case. The writ petition was filed on the basis of the investigation report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India titled Report No. 1 of 2014. The summary of the investigation report was that the initial aim of the Roshni Act was to resource mobilization of about Rs. 25488 crores by selling 2064972 kanals state land under unauthorized occupants. But it was observed that by the end of March 2013, only Rs. 76.24 crores reportedly against a demand of Rs. 317.54 crore for the actual transfer of 348160 kanals in the State. It was also observed that there was a loss of about Rs. 225.26 crore to the State Exchequer.
The honorable High Court of the State of Jammu and Kashmir looked into all the aspects of the case. The High Court also went through the investigation reports of various organizations and State Councils. Finally, on the 20th of February 2020, the honorable Chief Justice of the State of Jammu And Kashmir Gita Mittal and honorable Justice Tashi Rabstan gave the verdict of Central Bureau Investigation, i.e., CBI into the Roshni Case. The High Court had also asked the CBI to file a detailed report of the Roshni Case every eight weeks. The Anti Corruption Bureau of Jammu Vigilance, who was investigating this case so far, had registered almost seventeen FIRs. From the reports and investigations, many people opined with the view that The Roshni Act was misused with the aim of changing the demography of the State of Jammu. However, as the honorable High Court has given the order of the CBI probe into this case, let us look forward to it.