TAMIL NADU

Is QMC campus only location for Secretariat?

CHENNAI APRIL 9. Is Queen Mary's College campus the only place available in the entire city of Chennai for locating a new Secretariat complex, asked the senior counsel, Habibullah Basha, appearing for the Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), challenging the Government proposal to raze the ``dilapidated QMC buildings.''

Continuing his arguments before the First Bench comprising the Chief Justice, B. Subhashan Reddy, and Justice F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla, he contended that the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority streamlining construction in the city had ``become a puppet in the hands of the Government and rendered a non-entity.''

Expressing concern over the ``lack of sufficient budgetary allocation for health and education sectors,'' he said "if the Government is incapable of protecting a symbol of education and emancipation of women, then we (INTACH) will do it. Let the control of the college remain with the Government."

Mr. Basha blamed the Government — "not this Government or anybody, but successive governments" — for letting the historical building crumble and then deciding to raze it.

Sathyabal, a DMK student wing functionary arguing in person, apprehended that the college would lose its affiliation, autonomous status and the four-star accreditation if it were shifted. He also stated that the previous regime had renovated a similarly dilapidated Vivekanandar House at a cost of Rs. 1 crore.

N.G.R. Prasad, appearing for the All-India Democratic Women's Association, described the litigation as a ``pre-emptive action'' and said it was for the court to test if the Government proposal was in conformity with the University Regulations, the Development Control Rules and Constitutional provisions.

When the Chief Justice asked if the Chief Minister's statement made on the floor of the Assembly could be assailed in a court of law even before a GO was passed, Mr. Prasad said "we need not wait for the Governor's signature as required under Article 162 of the Constitution as it is only a formality in the Constitutional scheme of things."

However, the Advocate-General warned that in future even a note file signed by a Minister could be challenged and a writ filed against announcements inside the Assembly. Reiterating that the Government was not against opening the college, Mr. Chandran said that even before coming to the High Court the students were on strike and started boycotting classes.

As Mr. Chandran's arguments remained inconclusive today, the judges posted the matter for Thursday, and extended the single judge order of stay till then.