SC helps Southern Railway reclaim property

Dismisses a special leave petition preferred against Madras HC judgment

The Southern Railway has registered a major victory in reclaiming 4.87 acres of land alloted for the second phase of the Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) in Velachery, with the Supreme Court dismissing a special leave petition preferred by the Annai Indira Gandhi Hut Dwellers Association against a Madras High Court judgment.

According to P.T. Ramkumar, senior standing counsel for Southern Railways, a two-judge Bench of Justices N.V. Ramana and Mohan M. Shantanagoudar of the Supreme Court refused to entertain the special leave petition and granted six weeks’ time for members of the petitioner association to vacate the property.

It was the case of the petitioner that the State government had allotted one cent of land in Velachery to each of its members in 1992. However, the allotment was abruptly cancelled in 2003 citing the need to handover the lands to the Southern Railway. The association challenged the cancellation, but Justice S. Vaidyanathan found that original allottees of the lands were no more in occupation of the properties. He also found that many commercial buildings had been raised on the land. The judge also referred to submissions made by Chennai Collector in his counter affidavit that even the original 97 families to whom the land was allotted were actually encroachers whose request for assignment of lands was considered favourably in 1992 with a series of conditions which included that they should not sell the lands away. Subsequently, the petitioner association increased its membership to 312 and obtained ‘pattas’ (land ownership documents) in the names of those members from a Tahsildar through illegal means, the Collector said.

Shocked over such encroachers squatting over government land and refusing to vacate, the single judge termed them as “land grabbers” and ordered their eviction. When the matter was taken on appeal, a Division Bench of Justices R. Subbiah and P.D. Audikesavalu confirmed the single judge’s order.

Concurring with his core findings, the Division Bench now said: “Most of the persons in favour of whom the lands were assigned originally, were not actually living there. I t could be seen that lots of construction were put up unauthorisedly... Therefore, members of the appellant association are not entitled to the relief of equity to continue in the lands.”

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 7:52:24 AM |

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