CHENNAI: The first bench consisting of Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice N Mala on Monday ordered that the 31.37 acres of government land be alleged encroached and established constructions by the Shanmuga Arts Science Technology and Research Academy (SASTRA) university will be under the custody of the HC till the disposal of the case.
“The direction of this court should not affect the studies of the student by any means as the HC has taken the custody of buildings merely on the papers,” the bench cleared.
The judges further directed the Tamil Nadu government to file a counter affidavit showing the documents and sketches to consolidate its claim against the institute for occupying a watercourse on the 31.37 acres of land encroached by the institute.
The institute sought direction to the State to enter into an agreement for exchanging the land for the 31.37 acres of stretch occupied by the university.
Additional Advocate General J Ravindran opposed the submissions of the institute’s counsel senior advocate G Rajagopalan saying that his client would offer compensation or alternate land.
The senior counsel pointed out that the State had issued a Government Order (GO) on May 10, 2022, in favor of swapping lands.
However, the AAG made it clear before the bench that the scheme does not apply to the institute as they have not only occupied the land which was earmarked for the open prison but it has made constructions on the water course.
“The GO was issued in a general way and the same does not specifically apply for the institute which has occupied the government land for the past 35 years,” the law officer noted.
The AAG also lamented that when the officers are going to retrieve some pieces of land ranging from 50 to 100 square feet from the clutches of occupants, people have been striking back at the authorities by asking them to come after obtaining the 31.3 acres of land from SASTRA.
Recording the submissions, CJ MN Bhandari directed the AAG to consolidate the government's claim by submitting documents showing that the land encroached by the government has been classified as a water body. The matter has been adjourned to August 24.