High Court adjourns hearing on writ petition to January 2

A writ petition questioning the decision of the State government to convert the Secretariat-cum-Assembly complex built by the previous regime at the Omanthurar Estate on Anna Salai into a multi-super-specialty hospital and medical college came up before the Madras High Court on Wednesday.

A Division Bench, comprising Justice C. Nagappan and Justice. K.B.K. Vasuki, adjourned the hearing to January 2. In his petition, filed in public interest, R. Veeramani, an advocate, sought a declaration that the policy decision of the government made on August 19 and reiterated in a letter to him on December 8 to convert the complex into a hospital-cum-medical college was unconstitutional, arbitrary, illegal and violative of environmental laws. He also sought an interim order restraining the State government from taking any steps to convert the assembly/secretariat complex into a hospital.

He said he had given a representation to the government earlier seeking reconsideration of the policy decision.

The High Court during the hearing of a writ petition challenging the abandoning of the Anna Salai secretariat complex, had directed the authorities to consider his representation and make an appropriate decision at the earliest.

The Secretary, Public Works, rejected his representation without any personal hearing by a letter dated December 8.

Aggrieved by this, the present petition was filed. Mr. Veeramani contended that the government's decision was tainted with malafides and was against public interest.

The decision represented only the “political agenda of a party in power, which is subversive of the rule of law and a colossal waste of huge public resources.”

There was no material available before the State Cabinet to decide to recall the Assembly-Secretariat project and convert it into a hospital, and “no study or expert opinion was obtained.”

A project in which huge funds to the tune of Rs. 551.80 crore had been spent ought not to be discontinued for “partisan political reasons.” Further, there was already a multi-super-specialty hospital within a one-km radius – Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital. Vacant land that once housed the Central Prison had been allotted to the hospital and this was not considered for the present super-specialty hospital project, the petitioner said.