C. Vinoth Kumar of Kuthalam taluk in Mayiladuthurai district, had a problem with his neighbour’s coconut tree, planted close to the compound wall, leaning over his tiled roof and causing frequent damage to the tiles. He moved the Madras High Court and obtained an order for the tree to be cut.
A resident of Om Kaleeswarar Sannidhi Street, Mr. Kumar filed a writ petition in the High Court complaining of the coconuts and dry branches, falling from his neighbour’s coconut tree, causing damage to the roof’s tiles. He claimed to have been suffering losses and mental agony due to the frequent damage to his roof.
Since it was a recurring problem, he initially made a representation to the Mayiladuthurai Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) seeking appropriate action. Convinced that the leaning tree from the neighbour’s house was indeed causing trouble, the RDO passed an order on October 29, 2021 to cut the tree.
Subsequently, the petitioner had approached the High Court with the present writ petition seeking a direction to the Deputy Superintendent of Police to implement the RDO’s order. His counsel C. Parkavi told the court that the tree was quite old but the neighbour was not willing to cut it.
The court issued notice to the neighbour Kaliyamoorthi before taking a call on the writ petition but he consciously chose not to appear either in person or through his counsel. The neighbour’s name and address was also printed on the cause list (list of cases to be heard by the court). Yet, he did not respond.
After analysing the facts of the case, Justice C.V. Karthikeyan wrote: “The petitioner has a right to protect his property. He has a right to ensure that the property is not damaged owing to issues beyond his control which could be reasonably controlled by the orders of the authorities.”
He also took note that the RDO had satisfied himself that the coconut tree was leaning dangerously over the tiled roof of the petitioner’s house and that it should be cut. Further, on court’s insistence that the petitioner should plant any other sapling to replace the tree being cut, his counsel had agreed to plant a guava sapling.
“Taking into consideration the difficulties the petitioner is put to, particularly, because he has a tiled roof house and the naturally falling coconuts would break the tiles and thereby cause damage resulting in loss,” the judge directed the Kuthalam Tahsildar to take immediate steps to cut the coconut tree.
Further, he ordered that the Tahsildar should advice the writ petitioner to plant the guava sapling in compliance of a memo filed in the court, and hoped that the guava tree would grow without causing any obstruction.