Avoid doing anything adventurous at Veda Nilayam: Madras High Court

Judge asks State government to hold off on plans for the memorial until related cases are disposed of

January 05, 2021 01:14 am | Updated 01:14 am IST - CHENNAI

Justice N. Seshasayee of the Madras High Court on Monday advised the State government to avoid doing anything adventurous such as inaugurating a memorial for former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa at her Poes Garden residence Veda Nilayam until the court decides cases filed by her legal heirs against the acquisition proceedings.

When a couple of cases filed by Jayalalithaa’s nephew J. Deepak and niece J. Deepa challenging the acquisition proceedings and the award passed by the acquisition officer were listed for hearing, Special Government Pleader E. Manoharan said the government had filed a counter affidavit in one case and sought two weeks to file the counter in the other case too.

Cause for concern

On the other hand, Mr. Deepak’s counsel S.L. Sudarsanam referred to a news report regarding the government’s plan to inaugurate a memorial at Veda Nilayam immediately after Pongal and sought interim orders.

Finding force in his submissions, the judge asked the SGP to ensure that a status quo was maintained until the disposal of the cases.

“Don’t do anything adventurous,” the judge said and agreed to take up the cases for final hearing on January 27 if both sides complete their pleadings by then.

Mr. Manoharan requested the judge to desist from passing any adverse interim order and instead grant a short adjournment to facilitate the appearance of Advocate General Vijay Narayan. Accepting his request, Justice Seshasayee adjourned the cases to January 11.

The State government has acquired Veda Nilayam for a public purpose, whereas Mr. Deepak was objecting to this to serve his own interests, Chennai Collector R. Seethalakshmi told the court.

Counter affidavit filed

Filing a counter affidavit in response to a writ petition preferred by Mr. Deepak against the acquisition proceedings, the Collector said that there was no question of establishing a memorial in an alternative place since Veda Nilayam was closely associated with Jayalalithaa’s life and history.

The counter, served on the petitioner’s counsel, read: “The late former Chief Minister would have appreciated and welcomed the steps taken by the government to convert the residence into a memorial to serve as a symbol of motivation.”

Ms. Seethalakshmi went on to state: “It is submitted that the petitioner who was not publicly seen or even associated with the Late Honourable Chief Minister, when she was alive and had faced various challenges/adversities, both political and personal, is now claiming proximity/familiarity with her purely for the sake of retaining the properties.”

Asserting that the residence was being converted into a memorial by following due process, the Collector said that the memorial would promote tourism.

Ms. Seethalakshmi also denied the charge of having conducted the acquisition proceedings in haste.

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