The Madras High Court on Tuesday gave the green signal for the proposed construction of an arch on Rajaji Salai here to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations of the Tamil Nadu Assembly.
Dismissing a public interest litigation petition against the proposed construction, a Division Bench, comprising Justices R. Banumathi and K.K. Sasidharan, said the legislature represented the people. If the government had taken a conscious decision to put up the arch, it could not be said the decision was not in public interest.
The arch is to be erected between Fort St. George and War Memorial at an estimated cost of Rs.1.33 crore. It would 41 feet high and 80 feet wide.
The petitioner, M.S. Arasa Kumar, an advocate, said if Rajaji Salai was to be blocked for arch construction, the city would be choked and there would be no roads to reach the High Court and places such as Royapuram. Counsel contended that under the Tamil Nadu Highways Act, no person including the government, could put up any permanent structure on the highway.
Even if the road was a Chennai Corporation road, there was a clear embargo on putting up any permanent structure on a public street.
Advocate-General A.Navaneethakrishnan, assisted by the Government Pleader, S.Venkatesh and the Special Government Pleader, I.S.Inbadurai, contended that Rajaji Salai was not a highway. So the Highways Act was not applicable.
The road belonged to the Chennai Corporation, which had granted permission to construct the arch.
The Bench said on a perusal of the corporation’s resolution and the permanent land record extract, it was clear that Rajaji Salai was not a State Highway.
It belonged to the Corporation.
A perusal of the arch’s design would show that the pillars supporting the arch on both sides are to be located on the pavement. There would be an opening inside the pillars on both sides to facilitate pedestrian movement. When the structure had been designed without any intermediate pillars in the middle of the road and if it would not affect free flow of traffic or pedestrian movement, it could not be said that the proposed arch would be an obstruction on a public street.
The Bench agreed with the Advocate-General’s submission that the construction in commemoration of the Assembly’s diamond jubilee was a tribute to the people of the State.