The Madras High Court on Friday came to the rescue of an elderly couple, who had been struggling for the last 12 years to get their tenant, a politician, vacate a residential flat used unauthorisedly as party office. The court directed the Greater Chennai Commissioner of Police to evict S. Ramalingam, whom the couple claimed to be DMK ward secretary, within 48 hours.
Justice S.M. Subramaniam ordered that the Commissioner of Police must deploy as many police personnel as necessary to evict the politician from the flat on the first floor of an apartment on Abdul Azeez Street in T. Nagar and hand over possession of the flat to the elderly couple.
The judge directed government advocate (criminal side) S. Ramalingam to communicate the order forthwith to the Commissioner on phone as well as other modes of communication to ensure effective compliance. He called for a compliance report from the Commissioner by September 4.
The orders were passed on a contempt of court petition filed by R. Girija, 64, against the politician. The judge pointed out that the petitioner and her 75-year-old husband A. Radhakrishnan had not been able to get the tenant vacate the flat despite obtaining favourable orders even from the Supreme Court.
The petitioner had asked the politician to vacate the flat in 2011 but the latter insisted that they sell the property to him. In 2012, she filed a petition for eviction before the Rent Control Court but could obtain favourable orders only on January 3, 2022. The tenant went on an appeal but the first appellate court dismissed his plea on September 29, 2022.
A further civil revision petition filed by him before the High Court was dismissed by Justice Subramaniam on January 12. Then, the judge lamented that most tenants took advantage of the lengthy judicial process and continued on the rented premises without any authority and in the absence of a valid agreement between them and the landlords.
“If courts permit such unauthorized occupation beyond a reasonable period, then the trust on the judicial system will be shaken... Long delay in considering the eviction proceedings are causing untold mental agony to the landlords. Thus, the courts are expected to dispose of such cases within a reasonable period of time,” he said.
The tenant took this order too on further appeal but the Supreme Court rejected his plea on February 24 and hence the present contempt petition. During the hearing of the contempt plea, the petitioner’s counsel, S.N. Narasimhulu, brought to the notice of the judge that the tenant had not paid the rent of ₹7,000 since 2017.
He told the court that the tenant owned a flat on South Dhandapani Street in T. Nagar and yet he was unwilling to vacate the petitioner’s flat now kept under lock and key by him. When the contempt petition was heard on August 21, the tenant gave an undertaking to pay the rental arrears and vacate the property by August 24.
However, when the matter was taken up for hearing again on Friday, an adjournment was sought on behalf of the tenant to change his lawyer. Irked over such a conduct, the judge said the politician had been continuously disrespecting court orders and therefore he must necessarily be evicted using the police force.