Land once earmarked for public purpose cannot be earmarked for any other purpose, particularly to be de-reserved or put to use as housing plots.

This was stated in a judgment by a Division Bench, comprising Justices D. Murugesan and Vinod K. Sharma, while dismissing two appeals challenging a single Judge's common order of January 4 this year.

The Judge had allowed a writ petition filed by the Alamunagar Residents Welfare Association, Sathyamangalam Road, Coimbatore, questioning an order of the Municipal Administration and Water Supply Department of February 15, 2005, granting permission to change the usage of land from public purpose to housing plots in respect of lands situated in Alamunagar, Coimbatore, purchased by the appellants, K. Rajamani and others, to the extent of 10,000 sq. feet.

The Association had also challenged the government's permission to change land use from public purpose in another survey number of the very same layout and further direction to the Commissioner of Town and Country Planning to take action to make necessary amendments in the layout.

The appellants had earlier filed a writ petition questioning the resolution of November 27, 2005 by the Coimbatore City Corporation resolving to take over 20,973 sq.feet of land in Alamunagar, kept for public purpose. This was dismissed by the single Judge. Hence the present appeal.

The questions before the Bench included whether the government would have power to order dereservation of a land reserved for public purpose in a layout for any other purpose and whether the open space earmarked in a layout for use of park, etc could be allowed to be put in use for any other purpose.

The Bench said that as land once kept for public purpose could not be earmarked for any other purpose, the single Judge had quashed the G.O. dereserving the land earmarked for public purpose in the layout into housing plots. The Bench said it was not inclined to interfere with the same.

It said that in various decisions the High Court had ruled that space reserved for public purpose could not be altered to be put to use for any other purpose. The validity of the resolution by the Coimbatore Corporation was of no consequence in the facts of this case. The Coimbatore Corporation was only the custodian of land for maintaining open space and to put to use the purpose for which it was earmarked for the residents' benefit. Hence, the single judge rightly did not interfere with the resolution and found that the corporation was only the custodian of open space. The Bench said it did not require any interference.

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