Special Correspondent

Expresses dismay at fake claims related to land acquisition

CHENNAI: Expressing dismay at fake compensation claims in land acquisition cases, "misplaced sympathy" shown by courts and the consequent loss to public exchequer, the Madras High Court has favoured a CB-CID probe into all claims for enhanced compensation pending in courts.

A Division Bench, comprising Justice P.D. Dinakaran and Justice P.P.S. Janarthana Raja, gave the direction on an appeal preferred by the Special Tahsildar and Land Acquisition Officer of the Tamil Nadu Housing Scheme, challenging a Poonamallee Fast Track Court order raising the compensation from Rs.545 per cent to Rs.4,571.

Special Government Pleader V. Ravi contended that the subordinate court ought to have rejected the application since it was submitted well beyond the statutory period of six weeks. The court entertained the reference nearly seven years after the award was passed. Senior counsel for the claimants, M. Venkatachalapathy, said there was no need to interfere with the award as it had been passed on the basis of similar matters.

Discrepancies

On perusing the documents, the Bench noticed several discrepancies such as violation of the statutory limitation period stipulated in the Land Acquisition Act as well as undue reliance on "vital factors" and "manipulated" records.

Pointing out that there was no application for enhancement of compensation from the claimants, apart from two letters, the Judges said: "We are unable to see on what basis the land acquisition officer in the alleged proceedings in 1983 made a reference stating that a claim was made for a sum of Rs. 7,000. Our careful perusal discloses that the said proceedings do not even contain any signature or seal.

" This vital fact was not taken into consideration by the court below while dismissing applications from the authorities specifically contending that the very application for enhancement was manipulated."

Pointing out that the Special Government Pleader had submitted that attempts were being made by claimants in connivance with officials, "who adopt dilatory tactics to create a cause for the land owners," and that even applications filed after the limitation period were entertained without probe, the Judges said courts too had shown misplaced sympathy or apathy in such cases.

It then directed the Chief Secretary, besides Revenue and Home department authorities, to verify, "preferably through the CB-CID," the bona fide of written applications and the limitation period for making such applications, "so that the loss to the public exchequer may be prevented" on the basis of "manipulated and fraudulent claims."

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