Chennai

Withdraw ration cards of those refusing to shift: HC

No-go zone: Shanties at Elango Street in Govindasamy Nagar in R.A.Puram.

No-go zone: Shanties at Elango Street in Govindasamy Nagar in R.A.Puram.   | Photo Credit: K_Pichumani

Court orders punitive action for not taking up TNSCB accommodation

In an order that might raise many eyebrows, the Madras High Court has said, the State government can take coercive steps such as withdrawing ration cards, disconnecting water and power supply and denying government benefits such as Pongal gifts to those who refuse to shift to tenements constructed by Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB).

A Division Bench of Justices M. Venugopal and S. Vaidyanathan made the observation while passing interim orders on a case related to the failure of the State to evict 259 families from pucca houses constructed by them at Elango Street in Govindasamy Nagar in Raja Annamalaipuram here. The houses were reportedly situated close to the Buckingham Canal.

The judges held that the possible threat of a law and order problem arising due to forced eviction of the encroachers could not be cited as a reason for the delay in evicting them.

Accommodation

They also recorded the submission of S. Prabhu, standing counsel for TNSCB, that tenements were available in Perumbakkam and other places to accommodate the encroachers.

After acceding to a request made by Additional Advocate General Narmadha Sampath to grant her time till January 2, the judges said, “It is needless to mention that the respondents can take coercive steps such as disconnection of electricity, water supply and withdrawal of ration card to ensure that the encroachers do not get any benefits from January 2019.

“A fresh ration card can be issued to them only after their migration to the area identified by the Slum Clearance Board... The Chief Secretary to Government is directed to circulate the above order to the respective departments, such as electricity, civil supplies and Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board for necessary action.”

The judges said, the issue of evicting encroachers from Elango Street had been agitated up to the Supreme Court which had upheld the High Court’s order on eviction. Though the encroachers had claimed that they had planned to file a review petition in the apex court, no such case had been filed so far thereby creating the necessity to evict them immediately.

“It is not in dispute that the High Court order has become final and the question of notified slum has already been considered and even after several months, no effective steps in respect of so-called issuance of notifying the slum were taken. When there are tenements available to accommodate encroachers, nothing prevents the respondents from evicting them,” the Bench said.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 11:27:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/withdraw-ration-cards-of-those-refusing-to-shift-hc/article25736975.ece

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