Says this encourages land grabbers to occupy State land

Strongly criticising the issue of pattas to encroachers of government poramboke lands, the Madras High Court has said that G. O. s recognising such encroachers encouraged even land grabbers to occupy government lands and put up huts.

The series of G. O. s offering pattas to encroachers contributed considerably for evolution of slum areas and colonies.

“There is no second opinion that the State should take every effort to provide shelter to the poor people. Government has taken a policy decision earlier to distribute available lands to the poor and downtrodden.

Instead of implementing that policy, another policy decision conferring ownership on encroachers was taken, resulting in large-scale encroachment of public property. The Slum Clearance Board virtually became a Slum Creation Board on account of this changed policy and resultant creation of slums.”

Justice K. K. Sasidharan made the observation while disposing of a large batch of writ petitions directed primarily against the Tamil Nadu Government’s decision to hand over land measuring nearly 37.55 hectares at Perumbakkam, near here, to the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB) and the consequential entry permission granted by the Revenue Department on August 19, 2010. The petitioners who were occupants of the lands said they were all poor and downtrodden and had no shelter of their own.

The question before the court was whether the government was correct in handing over the land to the TNSCB.

Inherent right

Mr. Justice Sasidharan said that the government being the custodian of public property possessed the inherent right to deal with the property in larger public interest. Having found that the subject land was required for a public purpose, the government had rightly given entry permission to the TNSCB. There were no valid grounds made out to invalidate the G. O. s giving entry permission to the board.

Directions issued

The Judge observed that courts should help the needy to ensure that they had a decent place to live. Balancing the rights of slum dwellers who were in unlawful occupation and the interest of society at large, the Judge issued a series of directions, including that the board should provide alternative accommodation to the petitioners in any of the tenements, either constructed in the adjacent land at Perumbakkam village or in any other residential project.