Mohamed Imranullah S.

Judgment to be circulated among Chief Secretary, PWD Secretary, other officials

MADURAI: The Madras High Court Bench here on Thursday restrained the State government from constructing a centre for women entrepreneurs through the Small Industries Development Corporation (SIDCO) on 62.65 acres of land classified as ‘Maruthankulam Kanmoi' (water body) in revenue records of Tallakulam, situated at the heart of the city here.

In a judgement to be circulated to the Chief Secretary, Commissioner of Land Administration and Secretary of Public Works Department; Justice G.M. Akbar Ali directed the government to remove all encroachments on the ‘kanmoi' and maintain it as a water body. He also ordered the officials to file an action taken report before the court within six months.

The judge said that the First Bench of the High Court in 2005 had expressed its anguish over depletion of water resources across the State due to indiscriminate encroachment of lands classified as water bodies.

It had also directed the government to remove such encroachments and restore the water bodies.

Therefore, it was important to protect the ‘Maruthankulam kanmoi' too.

Second appeal disposed

The present judgement was passed while disposing of a second appeal filed by the State, represented by the Madurai Collector, challenging a family's claim of ownership over the water body.

Mr. Justice Akbar Ali held that the family was not entitled to any relief because it had approached the court with “unclean hands” and the relief sought for was “misleading.”

The family members had initially filed a civil suit before a Munsif Court here in 2004 claiming that they had inherited the property from their ancestors who had purchased it way back in 1941.

But the Munsif dismissed the suit after holding that private water tanks would have to be vested with the Government as per the Tamil Nadu Estates (Abolition and Conversion in to Ryotwari) Act, 1948. However on appeal, an Additional Sub Court here reversed the trial court's decision in 2007 and held that the family members were the owners of the property.

The Sub Court was of the view that the property would not fall under the ambit of the Tamil Nadu Estates Act. It also ruled that the land was not a tank Poromboke (government land) and hence the present second appeal by the State.