College not entitled to get notice before eviction: High Court

CHENNAI, OCT. 11. Paving the way for the Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB) to take over a 2.28-acre land at Ramapuram, the Madras High Court today ruled that a private college management, which put up a 50,000-sqft construction there, was not entitled for notice prior to eviction.

Justice A.K. Rajan, dismissing a writ petition filed by the Valliammal Society chairman, T.R. Pachamuthu, said: "By purchasing the land after the notification under Section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, the petitioner got only the right of the owner as on the date of such a purchase. Therefore, he is not entitled to get any notice under Section 7 of the Tamil Nadu Land Encroachment Act. The TN Encroachment Act has also no application to the facts of the present case." The petitioner contended in March 1995 the Board wanted to drop acquisition proceedings but could not enforce them since a writ petition filed by the original land owner, Andalammal, was pending in the High Court. The petition was withdrawn only to facilitate the Board to complete legal formalities of dropping the acquisition proceedings. He charged that the Board was trying to dispossess him of the land he had purchased.

However, counsel for the TNHB, D. Veerasekaran, submitted that the statutory acquisition notification was approved by the Government in May 1975; it was published in the June 1975 gazette; the mandatory enquiry and the award amount was finalised in November 1994; and finally, the land was handed over the Board in March 1995. Its possession was vested with the Board since then, he said.

Describing the plot as "heart of the proposed Ramapuram Neighbourhood Scheme," counsel said it was essentially required for forming a housing scheme under which plots had been allotted to the general public. He said the land was purchased only in 1996 by Valliammal Society, which commenced an "illegal" construction.

`Not owner of property'

Mr. Veerasekaran said the petitioner-society was not the owner of the property and had no right over the land. More so because, "once the possession is taken, the land would vest with the Board free from all encumbrances," he added.

Agreeing with his submissions, Mr. Justice Rajan said the petitioner purchased the land, which was already acquired and vested with the Government. At the most, he can get into the shoes of the original owner. Therefore, the petitioner has the right only to get compensation deposited in court. Further, the judge rejected the petitioner's submission that even if he was a trespasser he was entitled for notice as per the TN Encroachments Act.

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