HC directs TN govt to remove encroachments and hand over property to Rlys
The Madras High Court has directed the Tamil Nadu government to remove 97 encroachers from a land worth several crores of rupees and meant to be used for the Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) at Velacherry here in a 25-year-old dispute.
In his recent 100-page judgment, Justice S Vaidyanathan addressed them not as encroachers but as land-grabbers.
The judge directed the government to remove the encroachments immediately and hand over the property to the Southern Railway to be used for MRTS.
The judge delivered the judgment on a petition filed by the Annai Indira Gandhi Hut Dwellers’ Welfare Association, which was formed by the 97 encroachers.
Justice Vaidyanathan ordered restoration of possession to the railways.The matter dates back to 1992.
With the Southern Railway requisitioning the land for the MRTS project, the government had, on December 29, 2003, passed an order, cancelling a 1992 government order for allotment of one cent each to the 97 persons and allotted the property to the railways.
Aggrieved by the order, the encroachers had challenged it in the high court. On June 30, 2004, the court had passed an interim order, staying the eviction of the encroachers.
In 2017, the case was taken up for hearing by Justice Vaidyanathan, who ordered inspection of the entire property by a team led by the collector.
The judge, while referring to the prayer made on behalf the petitioners to recuse him from hearing the case and the letter addressed to the chief justice in this regard, said there was no question of “bias” in the case.
Whether the letter or complaint given by the petitioner to the chief justice would amount to contempt or not was for the chief justice to decide, the judge said in his order.
No one could compel a judge to recuse from a case when he had nothing personal in the matter, the judge added.