Madras High Court Urges Legislation to Combat Government Land Grabbing

Madras High Court Urges Legislation to Combat Government Land Grabbing
Madras High Court Urges Legislation to Combat Government Land Grabbing
Madras High Court Urges Legislation to Combat Government Land Grabbing
Madras High Court Urges Legislation to Combat Government Land Grabbing

Madras High Court Urges Legislation to Combat Government Land Grabbing

Madras High Court Urges Legislation to Combat Government Land Grabbing

The Madras High Court has raised concerns about the illegal encroachment and grabbing of government lands, emphasizing the urgent need for legislation to address this issue. Justice S M Subramaniam directed the Tamil Nadu government to investigate structural corruption related to land grabbing and enact appropriate laws to prevent such offenses.

Rejecting Plea from M/s Hotel Saravana Bhavan

The directive came in response to a plea from M/s Hotel Saravana Bhavan, seeking authorization to obtain a “patta” (land title) for 3.45 acres of land near the Central Bus Stand at Koyembedu in order to construct a shopping mall and hypermarket with an investment of Rs 1,575 crore. The land, initially granted by the previous AIADMK government just before the 2021 Assembly election, was canceled by the current DMK government in the following year.

Court’s Findings on Land Grabbing

Justice Subramaniam ruled that the facts and evidence presented in the case established that the petitioner was not entitled to the land title. Instead, the petitioner had systematically encroached upon government land for personal gain, with the apparent involvement of influential individuals in society and government officials.

Call for Land Grabbing Legislation

The judge expressed deep concern about the growing number of land grabbing cases and the complicity of government officials in such offenses. He stressed the need for a specific legislation to penalize land grabbing and criminal prosecution against land grabbers. Land grabbing, especially when it involves government-owned land, was deemed a serious offense against the state.

Immediate Action Required

Regarding the specific case at hand, the court ordered the authorities to take possession of the government land entirely, fence the property, and utilize it for the greater public good in line with constitutional court principles. Additionally, the court directed authorities to initiate criminal prosecution and disciplinary actions against those responsible for the illegal occupation of valuable government property across Tamil Nadu.

High-Level Committee for Oversight

The judge also instructed the authorities to establish a High-Level Committee to identify instances of government land grabbing, illegalities and irregularities in property management, recovery of lease rent arrears, and unlawful occupation of government land. The committee’s responsibilities include taking appropriate actions to protect the state’s financial interests and safeguard the rights of the vulnerable population in Tamil Nadu.

The Madras High Court’s stance highlights the importance of addressing the issue of land grabbing, particularly when it involves government properties, through comprehensive legal measures and stringent enforcement to protect public interests.

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