Few people knew that the tank bed adjoining the picturesque Halage Vaderehalli lake in Kengeri, situated along the Bangalore-Mysore highway, was in the thick of a more than a decade-old court battle. It was only earlier this week that the State Government managed to stave off the claims over more than four acres of prime land adjacent to the sprawling lake.

The land today is worth crores of rupees and with the State managing to win the case in the Karnataka High Court, the lake and its environs as of now appear safe from any further encroachment.

The story of the land began more than two decades ago when Sriramulu claimed that the land had been granted as Inam to his father, Venkataswamy Shetty, on May 5, 1965. His claim sent the State in a tizzy as the land was just adjacent to the tank.

With the Forest Department too staking claim to the land, the matter came to court. A writ petition was filed before the Karnataka High Court in 1997 and a contempt petition against officials of the Forest Department for removing structures on the disputed land was filed in 1999.

Both the cases came to be heard together by several different Division Benches. The last time that case came up before the Division Bench of Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice A.S. Bopanna, the Government sprang a surprise when it said the entire records of the case are fabricated. The Government advocate dealing with contempt cases in the High Court, V.S. Hedge, submitted to a shocked Bench that even the report of the Court Commissioner had been tampered with and the sketch, survey maps and report had been doctored. What took everyone aback was Mr. Hedge's submission that even the affidavit filed by the then forest official of the area, M.K. Cholarajappa, had been substituted and his original affidavit which he had sworn to had been replaced with a patently false one.

Mr. Hegde substantiated his claims of forged documents by producing a report of the Forensic Science Laboratory, which said that the maps, survey documents, affidavit and even a report of the Court Commissioner had been fabricated. The Bench directed counsel for Sriramulu to ensure that his client is present before the court on the next date of hearing.

When the case was called out, Mr. Sriramulu's counsel said his client is not keeping good health and that he had decided to withdraw the petition and the contempt case. The Bench permitted him to withdraw the two cases, thus paving the way for the Forest Department to re-establish its claim over the land.

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