PIL filed; court asks Commissioners to reply in two weeks.

The Madras High Court Bench on Monday directed Madurai Corporation Commissioner as well as Commissioner of Police to file their counter affidavits to a public interest litigation petition seeking eviction of all unauthorised occupants, hawkers, fruit vendors and other encroachers on the sides of the 80-feet wide main road at Anna Nagar, Madurai.

A Division Bench of Justices P.P.S. Janarthana Raja and M. Duraiswamy sought replies from the two top officials within two weeks and adjourned the matter thereafter. A.S.M. Kumar alias S. Muthukumar (42), a lawyer residing at Anna Nagar, had filed the PIL petition on the premise that the encroachments and consequent parking of a number of vehicles on roadsides had made the road unmotorable.

The petitioner pointed out that in the recent times, a number of hospitals, hotels and commercial complexes had cropped up on 80-feet road.

People visiting these places had no choice but to park their cars and two-wheelers on roadsides as most of these establishments had not provided any kind of parking space within their premises.

To add to this, the private establishments had encroached upon pavements thereby virtually forcing pedestrians to walk on the main road surpassing the parked vehicles.

Further, there was a mushrooming growth of hawkers and mobile eateries on roadsides making it impossible for accident-free flow of traffic on the road, he added.

Claiming that the locality was actually developed by Tamil Nadu Housing Board which had planned for only four commercial complexes abutting the main road, the petitioner said that at present there were 107 commercial buildings on the roadside and some of them were constructed without proper approval and in violation of the Town and Country Planning rules.

The petitioner also recalled an order passed by the High Court Bench in 2005 directing all the Collectors and local body authorities in the southern districts to evict encroachments from public places and said that even after that order no fruitful action was taken in respect of Anna Nagar 80 feet road.

The representations made by the petitioner to the Corporation officials too fell on deaf ears.

The right to do private business should not offend the right of the public to have hindrance free access to public roads, the petitioner said and referred to the legal maxims Salus Populi Supreme Lex Esto (let the welfare of the people be the supreme law) and Necessitas Publica Major Est Quam Private (private contracts cannot derogate from public right) to drive home his point.

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