MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has given "another opportunity" to the Bharathidasan University in Tiruchi to save nearly 25 acres of its land from being occupied by private individuals.
Allowing a batch of civil revision petitions filed by the university, Justice K. Venkataraman set aside an ex parte decree passed by the District Munsif in favour of the private parties who claimed ownership on the basis of the `pattas' (ownership documents) granted by a Tahsildar.
The Judge initially admonished the university for its laxity in handling the case before the lower court.
However, considering the fact that the university might incur a huge loss if the land was taken away, he referred the matter back to the Munsif to be heard afresh on condition that it should deposit Rs. 51,000 within two weeks.
The Munsif was directed the dispose of the case as expeditiously as possible, preferably on or before March 31.
The Judge said that the Government had acquired the property in 1982. A year later, more than 10 individuals filed a civil suit claiming ownership of the land on the strength of the pattas.
The university contested the suit on the ground that the Revenue Divisional Officer had cancelled the `pattas' citing unauthorised issuance. But the District Munsif passed an ex parte decree in favour of the claimants on February 3, 1998.
An application filed by the university to set aside the decree was also dismissed on February 12, 1999.
Subsequently, the varsity preferred an appeal before the First Additional Subordinate Judge who quashed the decree on condition that the educational institution should deposit Rs.1000 within four days.
"Unfortunately," the university did not pay the money and the appeal was dismissed for default.
In its submissions before the Madurai Bench, the university said that the money could not be paid because its counsel shifted his practice from Tiruchi to Chennai without intimating the university about the deposit amount.
Further, it claimed that several buildings, including its staff quarters, were constructed on the disputed land and hence it was necessary to set aside the decree.