Says the word ‘decision’ cannot be taken to mean ‘proposal’

The Madras High Court has quashed a State government communication to the Cosmopolitan Club and the Tamil Nadu Golf Federation in Chennai on September 26 stating that the Revenue Department has “decided” to retrieve 80.40 acres of land leased out to them for a period of 30 years from July 1, 1996.

Allowing writ petitions filed by the club as well as the federation, Justice D. Hariparanthaman agreed with the petitioners that the government officials could not straightaway “decide” to retrieve the land, as stated in the communication, without issuing a show cause notice and seeking an explanation from the petitioners as to why the land should not be retrieved. The judge also recorded that during the course of arguments, the Advocate General (AG) submitted that the letter would be treated as a show cause notice and a final decision would be taken only after considering, with an open mind, the replies to be filed by the petitioners. However, the petitioners’ counsel insisted on a written undertaking from the officials concerned.

The AG agreed to it and submitted a letter from the Revenue Secretary who stated that the word ‘decision’ mentioned in the communication, under challenge in the present writ petitions, was actually a ‘proposal’ of the government. Irked over such a statement, the judge said the Secretary’s letter was not in consonance with the submissions made by the AG.

Mr. Justice Hariparanthaman said Revenue Secretary must have concurred with the AG’s submission that the September 26 communication itself would be treated as a show-cause notice rather than attempting to interpret words found in the communication. As of now, a bare reading of the communication makes it clear that the government had not just proposed but decided to retrieve the lands. Hence, he quashed it with liberty to the government to issue a fresh show cause notice, if it desired to.

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