Chennai

Let Murasoli Trust prove it is not squatting on panchami land: NCSC

Commission claims it has powers to probe complaint that SCs were denied land

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) has told the Madras High Court that it has all powers to inquire into a complaint received against Murasoli Trust, which publishes the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s official organ, of squatting over a panchami land assigned during the British era for the exclusive use of those belonging to the Scheduled Castes (SCs).

In a counter affidavit filed before Justice C.V. Karthikeyan, the Commission, represented by its vice-chairman L. Murugan, said the scope of the inquiry initiated by it was not to give a finding on the title of the property like a civil court, as claimed by one of the trustees R.S. Bharathi of DMK, but only to the limited extent of finding out whether it was a Panchami land or not.

“If at all the petitioner is innocent and the disputed land is not a panchami land, they could declare to the whole world in black and white with proper documents. On the other hand, the petitioner is making unwanted allegations against this respondent,” the counter affidavit read.

The common counter, filed on behalf of the NCSC as well as Mr. Murugan in his personal capacity, stated that it was the duty of the commission to find out whether any panchami land had been “fraudulently” taken away by people not belonging to the SCs. It also stated that the trust had indulged in mudslinging against the vice-chairman.

“Even if the complaint is politically motivated, nothing prevents the petitioner from establishing their innocence and genuineness during the course of inquiry,” the counter affidavit added.

The counter was filed in response to a case preferred by the trust to restrain the NCSC from inquiring into a complaint lodged by R. Srinivasan of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who accused the trust of having usurped over 12 grounds of panchami land at Kodambakkam in Chennai. The trust had claimed that NCSC lacks jurisdiction to decide the title of a property.

The trust also accused Mr. Murugan of bias. It alleged that he had failed to shed his ties with BJP even after assuming office as the vice-chairman of NCSC.

When the case was heard on Monday, senior counsel P. Wilson, representing the trust, said he had filed a petition to amend the cause title of his case.

Initially the trust made the NCSC, represented by its vice-president, the first respondent to the case. Now, it wanted to amend it and make the NCSC, represented by its secretary, a party respondent. However, Assistant Solicitor General G. Karthikeyan took strong exception to the amendment petition and said the commission could not be represented by its secretary. He sought time for filing of a separate counter affidavit opposing the latest plea for amendment. Accepting his request, the judge adjourned the case to March 6.

When the complainant’s counsel S. Ravi pointed out that while the trust was, on one hand, asserting with authority that the property was not a panchami land, on the other it was claiming that it was only a tenant on that property, the judge said those arguments could be made during the final hearing of the case after the completion of pleadings.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 7:11:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/let-murasoli-trust-prove-it-is-not-squatting-on-panchami-land-ncsc/article30846778.ece

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