Giving the green signal for the much-awaited Phase II of the Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS), the Madras High Court, on December 19, 2018, dismissed an appeal against a single judge bench’s order, directing the Tamil Nadu government to evict 97 encroachers from a land required for the project. “The learned single judge had deeply analysed the facts and circumstances of the case and has passed a detailed and well-considered order, which needs no interference at the hands of this court,” a bench comprising justices R Subbiah and PD Audikesavalu said, in their order.
The bench dismissed the appeal filed by Annai Indira Gandhi Hut Dwellers Welfare Association of Velachery, who had challenged a December 29, 2003 state government order, cancelling a 1992 government order (GO) for allotment of one cent of land (about 450 sq ft) each to the 97 people and allotted the property to the Railways. Noting that only an order was passed and no land assigned, the court said the government has got equal power under Section 15 of the Tamil Nadu General Clauses Act, to revoke or cancel the GO already passed.
The bench also said it perused the inspection report, photographs, details of enumeration among others, cited in the single judge’s order and it could be seen that certain multi-storey buildings and commercial buildings have come up in the area. Therefore, most of the persons in favour of whom originally it was decided to assign the lands, were not actually living there, it said.
Settling the 25-year-old dispute, justice S Vaidyanathan had, in his March 21 order, addressed the petitioner association members not as encroachers but as land-grabbers. He had directed the government to remove the encroachments immediately and hand over the property to the Southern Railway, to be used for the MRTS’ second phase.