The individuals had obtained patta in 2008 from a Settlement Officer
The Madras High Court has intervened to prevent government land situated in the heart of the city and worth several crores of rupees from falling into the hands of private individuals.
The individuals, claiming to be legal heirs of the erstwhile Adyar Zamin, had obtained patta in 2008 from a Settlement Officer for the land, which is now in the possession of King Institute of Preventive Medicine Research, Guindy.
Aggrieved over the order, the Tahsildar, Guindy-Mambalam, and the director of King Institute filed writ petitions in 2010 seeking the quashing of the officer’s granting ryotwari patta to the individuals. The ryotwari patta was given to cultivable landholders after the Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, 1948, came into existence.
Disposing of their petitions, Justice K.Chandru said, “It is a clear case where private individuals hatched a conspiracy to grab the lands which are in possession of the government department for nearly a century by taking recourse to dubious legal proceedings.”
He imposed cost of Rs.25,000 on the nine individuals, payable to the King Institute’s director within eight weeks.
“It is clear that the authority has erroneously held the matter in favour of the private respondents,” said Mr.Justice Chandru while nullifying the order of the Settlement Officer.
The land measuring 1,273 grounds and 1,406 sq.ft was held by King Institute in Adyar village, Mambalam-Guindy taluk. Initially, the government poramboke land was part of Adyar Zamin and notified under the provisions of the Estates Abolition Act. Since then, the entire land in the estate vested with the government.
In 2008, the Settlement Officer granted patta in favour of Durab Zamam Begam and eight others. Later, Principal Secretary and Commissioner of Land Administration stayed the order citing that he found that the lands belonged to various government institutions. The private individuals instituted legal proceedings against the order.
In the petition, the tahsildar said King Institute had been in continuous possession of the property for over 100 years. The building on it was constructed in 1899 for production of vaccines and has been declared a heritage building. The lands claimed by the private respondents would be worth more than Rs.400 crore.
The Director, King Institute of Preventive Medicine, contended that the lands in question are now in possession of the King Institute, Dr.M.G.R. Medical University, Tamil Nadu Papers Limited, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board. The institute was not given a hearing by the settlement officer.
However, the individuals claimed they were children of G.M.Kasim Ali, one of the zamindars of Alandur and Adyar villages.
The Judge noted that if the impugned order was given effect to, it would mean that King Institute employees would have to go there only through a rope car, as the officer had given away land on which buildings in and around the Institute were located.
The Settlement Officer concerned was placed under suspension in 2010. A criminal case was also registered against her.