‘Neither the statute nor government standing orders recognised any private oorani’

Setting aside an order of the additional sub-judge, Madurai, the additional district court here has ruled that private parties cannot have right of ownership over a public water source.

The Ariyapatti panchayat president had filed an appeal in the district court challenging the order of the lower court permitting 16 ayakatdars (farmers) to claim exclusive rights over the Vandipulian Oorani water source.

In his order, the additional district judge held that the ayakatdars could draw water on 98 cents of land for irrigation but could not claim ownership over the water source, which was situated on government poremboke land.

The 16 ayakatdars, who own 4.41 acres of land, have claimed the exclusive right to use water from the oorani for their farming activities.

In their original petition filed before the additional sub-court, the ayakatdars contended that the water source had been in their possession for several decades.

They claimed the right to fish in the water body, which is being maintained by them without any government grant.

However, the panchayat president, in his appeal at the district court, denied that the oorani was privately owned and said it was situated on poremboke land.

He claimed the water body vested with the panchayat, which had taken steps to maintain it for public use.

In his order, additional district Judge M. Suresh Vishwanath observed that neither the statute nor government standing orders recognised any private oorani.

He termed the lower court judgement “liable to be inferred.”

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