High Court says it will not grant any further adjournment

While posting two petitions against the proposed conversion of the new Assembly-cum-Secretariat complex in the Omandurar Estate here into a multi-speciality hospital for final hearing on December 3, the Madras High Court on Monday made it clear that it would not grant any further adjournment. If any adjournment is sought for on that date, the petition seeking to vacate an interim order would be taken up for hearing, the court said.

The petitions, filed by advocate R. Veeramani of MKB Nagar here, challenged the policy decision of the government of August 19 to convert the new structure into a hospital and a G.O. of September 14 last year publishing the decision of the council of Ministers at the August meeting for alternative use of the complex.

On January 20 this year, the court granted an interim injunction restraining the authorities from making any structural alterations to the new building.

By mutual consent, the petitions had been posted for final hearing on Monday before a Division Bench consisting of Justices K.N. Basha and N. Paul Vasanthakumar.

When the matter came up, V.T. Gopalan, a senior counsel, said P. Wilson, another senior counsel who was representing the petitioner, had been appointed Additional Solicitor-General of India (ASG) and was not able to appear on Monday. As he was holding the ASG’s post, he had to complete certain other formalities and as such sought further time for final hearing.

Objection to petitioner's stand

The Additional Advocate-General, Guru. Krishnakumar, and the Government Pleader, S. Venkatesh, objected to the petitioner’s stand. In such an event, the government would be put to great hardship in view of the interim order already passed in petitioner’s favour. They said the interim order could be vacated.

The Bench said the fact remained that Mr. Wilson had been appointed as ASG. Further, the issue of getting environmental clearance was now pending before the Green Tribunal.

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests was also indirectly involved in the issue involved in the petitions. As such it was for Mr. Wilson to take an appropriate decision whether to appear or not.

Mr. Justice Basha said that in order to give some breathing time, the court was constrained to post the petitions for final hearing on December 3. “It is made clear that on that day, request for adjournment would not be entertained and adjournment, if sought for, the petition relating to the relief of vacating the interim stay would be taken up for hearing,” he said.

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