The Madras High Court has set aside a May 2012 order of the revenue department, relating to resumption of a piece of land on EVR Periyar Salai near the Central Station here for the Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) project.

The court remitted the matter back to the government to issue notice to those who are in possession of trust lands/buildings as on date. It has directed the government to consider their objections and pass fresh orders, as expeditiously as possible.

Justice N. Paul Vasanthakumar passed the common order while disposing of a batch of 21 petitions by one N. Ismail and others. The petitioners claimed to be in possession of certain plots of land either as a lessee, or continuing in possession, after the period of lease was over, of theproperty, which was earlier granted by the government to Raja Sir Ramaswamy Mudaliar Choultry.

In August 1970, the court had removed the hereditary trustees of the choultry, ordered the Official Trustee (OT) to take immediate possession of the trust property and framed a scheme for administering the property.

By the impugned order of May 21, the lands were ordered to be resumed. Those in possession were ordered to be vacated as the lands were required for CMRL.

The petitioners contended that no notice was issued to the lessees/occupants of the lands assigned to the trust and that the administrator-general and OT had been directed to evict all tenants and hand over possession, without any compensation being paid.

In the counter, the district collector, Chennai, said the government had the authority to resume the land, which was granted to the trust for a specific purpose, under a condition of resumption. After resumption, the land was to be used for a public purpose, namely the CMRL, which was a time-bound project.

Justice Paul Vasanthakumar said the principal reason given for resumption of the lands was alleged violation of conditions. This was erroneous as the grant itself permitted the choultry to construct buildings after obtaining government permission. The government had also granted permission.

He said the petitioners were entitled to get compensation under the CMRL’s scheme. At least for determining the proper compensation, the petitioners were bound to be heard before they were evicted. If the occupants were evicted without verifying the amount that each was entitled to as compensation, their civil rights would be affected, the judge said.

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