In Jammu and Kashmir, a new department opens to register land transactions – and it’s sparked anger – 

On October 22, days before the state of Jammu and Kashmir was officially split into two Union Territories, the state administration announced a new department of registration would be set up. It would function under the revenue department. The aim was to “provide hassle free and speedy service to the citizens for registration of documents pertaining to immovable property like sale, gift, mortgage, lease, bequest”, said a government press release on October 23. The governor had approved the creation of 464 new posts for the new department.

The changes are part of Jammu and Kashmir’s transition from state to Union Territory after it was stripped of special status under Article 370 on August 5. The state constitution, enacted under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, was also struck down. Article 35A, which granted the state government the power to define “state subjects” and reserve for them certain rights and privileges, including the right to own land, was repealed.

Parliament passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, which lays out the roadmap for this massive administrative overhaul. It lists 153 state laws that are to be repealed and 106 Central laws that have been imposed on the new Union Territories. One of the state laws listed is the Jammu and Kashmir Registration Act, replaced by the Registration Act, 1908, a Central law. It touches on one of the major changes that have resulted from the August 5 decision: the buying and selling of land in Jammu and Kashmir. Already, it has triggered protests among lawyers of the former state.…