CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Monday allowed two criminal revision petitions by the Manager of the Kodanad Estate in Kothagiri taluk of the Nilgiris district challenging the orders passed by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM), Coonoor, with regard to the service road situated inside the estate.
The court quashed the orders of the SDM dated August 1, 2007 and September 20, 2007.
Restrictions on vehicles
It was claimed that the only passage for the families living in Kamaraj Nagar and Anna Nagar, situated on one side of the estate, to have access to the outside world was taking the service road in the estate. Admittedly the service road was situated within the Kodanad limits and it was a patta land belonging to the estate. Over the years, the residents were allowed to go through the road.
However, restrictions were imposed on vehicles plying through the road which could be done only after getting written permission of the estate management and after paying a small fee as toll charge. For various security and other reasons, the gates situated at both ends of the road were closed during night. It appeared that the people were irked over the delay in getting the gate pass and also the closure of the gates at night which created difficulties.
They petitioned the Kodanad panchayat for finding a permanent solution to the problem.
The Gram Sabha resolved to request the government to acquire the road and entrust the same to the Panchayat.
The SDM invoked his power under section 133 (Conditional order for removal of nuisance) CrPC and issued a notice asking the estate to remove the obstructions on the road.
This was questioned by the estate manager. The SDM later confirmed his earlier order.
In his order allowing the petitions filed by the estate, Justice K.Chandru said “When a valuable right of a owner of a property is at stake, merely because there is a group demand or a mob desire, the power under section 133 CrPC cannot be used or rather misused.”
The evidence placed before the Sub-Divisional Magistrate did not disclose that there was any imminent danger to public tranquillity or peace and the complaint made by the local people was only a petition to the State to acquire the property.
The Judge advised that it was needless to mention that the petitioner estate would not deny access to the villagers of Anna Nagar and Kamaraj Nagar to use the pathway as it was done in the last 13 years with such restrictions and conditions as it may impose for utilising the Estate Road considering that it was the only access to the outside world.