Court dismissed a batch of petitions challenging a G.O. for resuming the land

The stage is set for the takeover of a piece of land opposite Central railway station here for the ongoing CMRL project, with the Madras High Court facilitating this with an order on Thursday.

The court dismissed a batch of petitions challenging a G.O. of September this year for resuming the land. Justice K.K. Sasidharan directed CMRL to assess the reasonable compensation payable to the petitioners with the assistance of the Chennai district collector, immediately. The compensation is required to be paid to the petitioners as soon as possible, and in any case, by January 10.

Following a Supreme Court order of July 25, the collector issued individual notices to the affected parties and received their response. Later, the government passed the impugned order of September 28 resolving to resume the land and directed the petitioners to vacate and handover their respective premises to the taluk authorities.

The G.O. was challenged by R. Kasthuribai and nearly 15 others, who were lessees and sub-lessees.

The land, in 1888, was given by the then Madras Government to Sir S. Ramasami Mudaliar for constructing a choultry for use, free of cost, by railway travellers and for poor-feeding, with a right to resume without paying compensation (if it ceased to be employed for the purpose for which it was granted or used for any other purpose.) The land was sought to be resumed for violation of conditions of grant.

The petitioners questioned the government’s authority to resume the land by invoking the resumption clause contained in the original grant, in view of a subsequent High Court order framing a scheme for the trust and directing the administrator-general and official trustee to take over the land and administer it as per the scheme.

Justice Sasidharan said the land was now in possession of a few tenants with a right to sub-lease. There was a mushrooming growth of shops, with one shop being converted into many by the existing lessees. The trust was not the beneficiary. The property given by the government for a particular purpose was now being used for a different purpose.

The CMRL’s plan clearly proved the public purpose for which the land was required. The CMRL had agreed to preserve the heritage building, he said.

“The petitioners have enjoyed the government land for all these years. Now it is time to vacate and handover for larger public purpose,” the Judge added.