Special DRO order rejecting SASTRA’s objections quashed

Staff Reporter

Varsity against NHAI acquiring its land for widening road

MADURAI: The Madras High Court has quashed an order passed by the Special District Revenue Officer (Land Acquisition), rejecting the objections raised by SASTRA University against acquiring its land for widening Tiruchi-Thanjavur Road.

Allowing a writ petition filed by the deemed university in the Madurai Bench, Justice G. Rajasuria held that the principles of natural justice had been violated while passing the impugned order, which was also bereft of reasons for rejecting the objections. The judge directed the Special DRO to redo the process by furnishing the petitioner with the National Highways Authority of India’s remarks on the objections, within seven days. On receipt, the petitioner shall file its further objections in a week thereof. Thereafter, the DRO could pass final orders in 15 days after hearing both the NHAI and the petitioner. The university should cooperate with the officer in complying with the judgment.

The university had claimed that the road could be widened even without acquiring its property. It alleged that the officials were out to get the property by creating an artificial bend, through the university campus, in the proposed roadmap.

Counsel for the Special DRO and the NHAI contended that courts should exhibit restraint in matters of land acquisition for public purposes. The court had to weigh the public interest vis-À-vis private interest while exercising discretionary powers.

To this, Mr. Justice Rajasuria said: “There could be no quarrel over that…my mind is redolent and reminiscent of the famous maxim, Privatorum convention juri publico non derogat [The agreement of private persons cannot prevent the application of general rules of law or render valid any contravention of law].” However, the university was in no way against the laying of the road, but it only objected to the artificial curve, which it said was actuated by an ulterior motive and not by requirements under any standard, including the Indian Road Congress, he said.

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