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Court dismisses agri society petition against retrieval of land

The land on Cathedral Road, spread over 100 grounds, is estimated to be worth several hundred crores

Court dismisses agri society petition against retrieval of land

Madras High Court

CHENNAI: The State government’s efforts to retrieve more than 100 grounds of land in the heart of the city, estimated to be worth hundred crores, proved successful after the Madras High Court on Tuesday dismissed yet another petition filed by Agri-Horticultural Society challenging the proceedings of the authorities to retrieve the land belonging to the government that is in its possession.

Dismissing the petition, Justice SM Subramaniam said, “The society has not established even a semblance of legal right to occupy the land belonging to the government.”

In the event of abuse of government land by any private individuals, the right of public at large was violated and in such circumstances, the government was duty bound to resume the land and recover the lease rent by following the procedures as contemplated, he added.

The land has already been resumed by the government, and the Department of Horticulture and Plantation Crops is in possession of the land as of now, the court pointed out, and added, “Thus the government has to protect the property in the interest of public and utilise the land for the welfare of the public.”

In its petition, the society, represented by its honorary secretary V Krishnamurthy, had claimed that it was granted land by the English during the colonial era and it had also bought land from its own funds from 1836 onwards. This apart, the government had leased out certain portions of land in 1912. The land is situated on the northern side of Cathedral Road.

It also challenged an order of the Commissioner of Land Administration, directing the district Collector to recover the lease rent amount payable by the society.

It cited several grounds, including the grounds relating to mala fide, lack of jurisdiction, political vendetta, etc. But Justice Subramaniam pointed out that all these grounds were elaborately adjudicated by the High Court, which were confirmed by the division bench of the court and subsequently by the Supreme Court.

Even while making clear the court’s displeasure at the society for filing the writ petition challenging the show-cause notice in the hope that it can get “some ex parte interim relief projecting fake or illusory reasons”, the judge said the court independently considered the grounds and the legal positions once again but did not find any reconsidering the society’s claim.

Justice Subramaniam also noted that the show-cause notice was issued by the Commissioner of Land Administration in exercise of his powers under the Revenue Standing Order for initiation of suo motu revision proceedings.

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