Alarmed by the government submission that all the original records pertaining to land acquisition in Coimbatore have gone missing, the Madras High Court expressed deep anguish at the sorry state of affairs that was prevailing in some of the State Undertakings, and directed the State government to immediately inquire into the matter and initiate departmental action against the persons instrumental in ensuring that the original records went missing.
This was a classic case where even if the State government wanted to implement projects in public interest, there are black sheep, both at the level of the government as well as the State Undertakings, who would put spokes into them developments for their self-aggrandisement, said Justice N Anand Venkatesh.
“This court is confident that the original records are not actually missing, but safely available with someone and probably after this order, attempts may also be made to destroy the original records,” the judge said. If the government found private parties were also involved in the illegal act, criminal complaints should be initiated and they should be brought to books, he added.
“If such stringent actions are not taken, the black sheep will go scot free and this type of illegal activities will continue and ultimately, it will have a direct impact on the public interest. This court, therefore, expects the State to act with alacrity immediately after the receipt of this order,” the judge said. The case relates to the land acquisition in Coimbatore on behalf of Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB) for a project undertaken in a phased manner from 1995. While TNHB claimed that the petitioners’ lands were acquired in 2006 and compensation was deposited in the treasury, the petitioners said that they were not informed about it. They contended that authorities had neither taken possession nor paid compensation, and added that they were aware of the acquisition only after certain actions were taken by TNHB in June 2020.
Justice Anand Venkatesh slammed the officials of recklessness not only in taking possession or paying compensation, but also the audacity to tell the court that the entire original records has gone missing. As the original records are not available, the court was not in a position to ascertain as to when the State had taken possession of the properties from the landowners and the mode adopted for taking possession, he said.
“In the absence of the State not filing any counter and not coming out with a clear stand as to when the possession was taken from the landowners and the mode that was adopted for taking possession, this court is not in a position to satisfy itself with regard to the taking of possession of the property by the State from the landowners,” the judge held.
Cops asked to respond on 41 missing files on idol thefts
The Madras High Court has directed the government to file its counter in a plea alleging theft of 41 case diary (CD) files pertaining to idol thefts in the State.
The petitioner, ‘Elephant’ G Rajendran, submitted that the government was yet to file a counter despite the earlier bench seeking for a status report on the issue. The missing files indicated burglary by police officials themselves, he said. Following this, a division bench comprising Justice MM Sundresh and Justice R Hemalatha posted the plea for further hearing to Monday after directing the government to file the counter by then.
The petitioner had alleged in his public interest litigation that more than 40 CD files relating to the theft of century-old temple idols were missing and that there was huge misappropriation of temple jewels.
He had obtained information under the Right to Information Act from the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Idol Wing CID, Guindy, that it was true that 41 CD files had been stolen from various police stations in Tamil Nadu. This maximum number of files lost was from Tiruvallur, 12 files. Others include seven from Perambalur, six from Nagapattinam, five from Cuddalore, three each from Tiruvannamalai and Ramanathapuram, two each from Salem, Dharmapuri and Tirunelveli, and one each from Krishnagiri, Erode, Namakkal, Theni, and Thoothukudi.
The petitioner also noted that a missing Nataraja idol that is more than 1,000 years old was at a place in Andhra Pradesh. If the location of that idol was made public, there was every possibility that it might vanish like the other idols.