Lawfully yours: By Retd Justice K Chandru

Your legal questions answered by Justice K Chandru, former Judge of the Madras High Court Do you have a question? Email us at
Lawfully yours: By Retd Justice K Chandru

No mega project can deprive people of right to have their say

According to a map released by the government, five villages will cease to exist once the new airport comes up at Parandur. These villagers, mostly farmers, have been living there for decades and the project will deprive them of livelihood. Don’t the villagers have the right to say ‘no’ to govt compensation and acquisition of their land? Can’t they expect intervention of judiciary when their voice is muffled? Outsiders are barred from meeting villagers and police presence in large numbers is harrowing. Which doors should they knock at now? —Arumugaswami, Kancheepuram

The old Land Acquisition Act of 1894 was most draconian. In the name of “eminent domain”, the colonial government took the lands of the people with a pittance of compensation. After the Independence, the Constitution of India, as interpreted by courts, guaranteed market rates for the lands acquired.

It is the new 2013 Land Acquisition Act which provided for public participation and veto power. But the government has made public objections a farce. The present government believes by offering a higher rate of compensation, the residents will be willing to surrender their lands.

Since strong resistance is building up, it will be difficult for government to take over the lands without unleashing violence. Nandigram episode is an assurance that no mega project can deprive people the right to have their say.

Elected local body members should deal with stray dog issue

The Supreme Court has observed that those who feed the street dogs could be made responsible and bear the costs if they attack people. It also put the onus of vaccinating the strays on them. Is feeding strays a crime? Is it not part of our culture? Going by the observation, will feeding a prospective criminal be treated as an abetment? Doesn’t Article 21 of the Constitution safeguard the “right to life and security” of “every species”? Why then the clamour to punish the dog lovers? —Sumita Muthuvel, T Nagar, Chennai

The courts at times go to direct extreme measures in matters relating to animal rights. Many a time they don’t speak in a single voice.

Once upon a time, it was the courts which took local authorities to catch street dogs and kill them. Then came the licensing system.

Now it is the other way of direction to kill. Some judges even went to the extent of conferring human rights to the animals also. More than you it is the government authorities who are perplexed in dealing with the issue.

Ultimately, the issue should be dealt with by elected representatives of the people who enjoy specifically assigned powers under municipal law.

Rest assured that all the rhetorics exported by the court will not work.

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