MUZAFFARABAD: The Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) cabinet on Tuesday accorded approval to amendments in a law to give protection to the lawful ownership of land.
Under the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2020, harsh punishment was proposed for the offence of illegal occupation of private or crown land and a mechanism was fixed for early disposal of such cases.
The cabinet meeting was presided over by Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider.
According to a handout, those guilty of unlawful occupation of immovable private or public property would be awarded punishment, including 10 years imprisonment and payment of fine [to the state] and special compensation [to the aggrieved person].
The aggrieved person would file a petition in the sessions court which would have to pass a decision on it within 60 days. Only one appeal could be filed against the session court’s decision which would have tobe disposed of within 30 days.
After eviction of the illegal occupants, the land would be returned to the original owner, whether a government department or private individual.
Action might also be taken against the head of the government department who would fail to take stock of illegal occupation of department’s property by initiating legal proceedings against the occupants.
The amended law also made the tenants bound to vacate the property for the owner at the expiry of the tenancy agreement or else action would be taken against the tenant.
The owners would be compensated for the agony due to illegal occupation of their property.
The cabinet resolved to take effective steps to reorganize the development authorities and increase their capacity and income to make them self-sustained.
It decided to release funds for salary arrears of the employees of development authorities but made it clear that the state would not bear this burden on a permanent basis.