Two persons get one-year jail term

The first ever conviction in a land grabbing case was recorded in Dharmapuri district on Thursday. Two persons accused of grabbing the land of a farmer in the Marandahalli police station limits were convicted and awarded one year imprisonment by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Dharmapuri.

According to Superintendent of Police Asra Garg, Sailendar of Khendamkahalli purchased 3.07 acre of agricultural land bordering Karnataka in 2006. When he tried to take possession of the property, Anand and Perumal of the same village claimed that the land belonged to them. They damaged the thatched huts and threatened Sailendar not to enter the land.

The victim lodged a complaint with the District Crime Branch that registered a land grabbing case and invoked various charges, including Section 447 (criminal trespass) and Section 3 of the Tamil Nadu Public Property (Prevention of Damage and Loss) Act, 1992.

Trial in the case began in November 2012 and the judge pronounced the verdict on Thursday. Since the case involved offences punishable under Special Local Laws, it was tried in a regular court.

Land grabbing was one of the priority areas of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa after the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam returned to power in May 2011. A total of 39 Anti Land Grabbing Cells were formed in all districts and commissionerates.

Though thousands of complaints poured in these cells, police scrutinised each of them based on documents and cases were registered only when the offence of land grabbing was made out. In April 2012, about 34,700 complaints were received across the State and police registered 1,225 cases. Land worth Rs. 758 crore was recovered and restored to the lawful owners, police sources said.

As many as 32 persons, including many Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam functionaries, accused in land grabbing cases were detained under the Goondas Act. However, the detention orders in 31 cases were set aside by the appellate authority.

In August 2011, the government sanctioned the setting up of 25 Fast-Track Special Courts for speedy disposal of land grabbing cases.

However, the Madras High Court, while hearing a batch of writ petitions challenging the formation of special courts, issued orders restraining the police from filing charge sheets in the special courts, the sources added.