File counter to show SASTRA occupied water bodies: HC tells TN

Heading the first bench along with Justice N Mala, Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari passed the direction on hearing a petition filed by SASTRA – a deemed to be a university.
Madras High Court
Madras High Court

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Tuesday directed the Tamil Nadu government to file a counter to explain to the court whether the Shanmuga Arts Science Technology and Research Academy (SASTRA) has occupied the water bodies in Thanjavur districts.

Heading the first bench along with Justice N Mala, Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari passed the direction on hearing a petition filed by SASTRA – a deemed to be a university.

The institution sought a direction from the court to quash an eviction notice issued by the revenue authorities of Thanjavur district on charges against the university of occupying 31.37 acres of land for 35 years which was originally allotted to the prison department.

When the matter was taken up again on Tuesday, J Ravindran, Additional Advocate General (AAG) submitted that the institute has encroached government lands and in addition it had also encroached on water bodies.

Even though the counsel for the SASTRA university informed the court that they are ready to provide alternate land and adequate compensation to the government, the AAG objected to the argument. The AAG informed the court that the government cannot get alternate land from the institute for occupying the water bodies. “The revenue records are very clearly showing that the university had occupied the water bodies,” the State submitted.

Recording the submissions, the judges directed the state government to file a counter affidavit and granted liberty to the institution to file a response for that counter. The judges noted that after receiving the counter from the government and a response from the petitioner, the court would assess whether water bodies have been encroached on by the university or not.

The court adjourned the matter to September 26.

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