Observing that the Tamil Nadu Property (Prevention of Damage and Loss) Act, 1992, was not being effectively implemented even nearly three decades after its enactment, the Madras High Court directed the Commissioner of Revenue Administration to issue a circular to all the District Collectors and Superintendent of Police to ensure immediate action under the provisions of the Act in the event of any damage or loss to the property.
Justice S M Subramaniam issued the direction while disposing of a plea moved by Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) seeking to quash the notice issued by the State government seeking compensation for the damage caused to buses in the violence indulged by its party workers in 2013.
The PMK’s contention that all criminal cases ended in acquittal was of no avail, the court held. Mere acquittal in a criminal case would not bar proceeding under the provisions of the Act to recover the compensation for damage or losses, it said.
“The purpose and object of the Act is to ensure that public properties are protected and in the event of causing any damage or losses, compensation is recoverable from such persons, if established. Thus, the contention in this regard is rejected,” the judge ruled.
Pointing out that the possible reason for slow implementation of the Act was that a particular political party or group responsible may be in alliance with the ruling party at the Centre or State, Justice Subramaniam said, “In respect of the case on hand, PMK has not established lack of jurisdiction or otherwise for the purpose of entertaining the writ petition.”
The present writ petition has been pending for about six years, and any further delay would cause prejudice to either of the parties, the court said. “In these circumstances, it is necessary that the enquiry must be conducted without any further delay,” the bench ruled while directing the authorities to complete the hearing within four months. The court also sought PMK to cooperate for the early disposal of the enquiry.
“The political parties of communal, language and ethnic groups and their leaders are duty bound to ensure that their cadre maintain discipline while performing such agitations, demonstrations etc., by respecting the public rights of every citizen,” the court added.
The “Chithirai Thiruvizha” function organised by PMK and Vanniar Sangam on behalf of party founder S Ramadoss on April 25, 2013, at Mahabalipuram had ended in violence, which affecting the operation of MTC services in Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts from April 25 to May 19.