The petitioner prayed for issue of writ order directing respondents 1 to 4 to demolish the entire superstructure that was being put up on the above agricultural land.

Our Legal Correspondent

Chennai, Aug. 8

A Division Bench of the Madras High Court, after hearing a public interest litigation, ordered "status quo" in respect of superstructures being put up by two educational trusts and a firm on a 30-acre agricultural land in Noombal Village, Ambattur Taluk, Thiruvallur District, Tamil Nadu.

These constructions, according to the petitioner, Mr R. Srinivasan, Krishna Nagar, Virugambakkam, were on despite a `stop work' notice dated January 5, 2005, issued by the Thiruverkadu Municipality, followed by a demolition notice dated January 28, 2005, served on a Chennai-based firm Ranga Structurals.

Arguing before the Bench, comprising Mr Justice P.K. Misra and Mr M. Justice Jaichandren, Mr M.S. Krishnan, counsel for the petitioner, said that the fourth respondent (Thiruverkadu Municipality), instead of exercising the right of demolition of the illegal structures on the land, under the TN District Municipality Act, filed an injunction suit in the District Munsif Court, Poonamallee, to restrain respondents from continuing with constructions.

The petitioner said he had informed the District Munsif Court, Poonamallee, of injunction order dated February 28, 2005, issued on suit to various builders which were involved in the work.

Contempt of court

Even thereafter, these companies were continuing with work, thus, committing offence of contempt of court.

The power to initiate action against unauthorised development in areas coming under local bodies within the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) limit had been delegated to local authorities themselves under GO dated December 12, 1978.

According to the petitioner, respondents 5 to 7 (Ranga Structurals, Kannammal Educational Trust and Dr MGR Educational & Research Institute Trust) were planning to put up multi-storeyed structures, and it was not known whether they had obtained necessary reclassification of the agricultural land measuring 30 acres, which was mandatory for obtaining the plan permission, the petitioner said.

The petitioner submitted that according to his information, the 30-acre agricultural land was owned by one Ms Lalitha, wife of Mr A.C. Shanmugham. His family members were partners of sixth respondent (Kannammal Educational Trust). Towards end of 2004, huge construction plans were launched on this land. Had fourth respondent (Thiruverkadu Municipality) followed the course of action as per law by demolishing the structures, this public interest litigation would not be before the Court. Its failure to do so amounted to dereliction of duty.

Plea for issue of writ order

The petitioner prayed for issue of writ order directing respondents 1 to 4 (Chief Secretary, TN Govt, Secretary, Housing & Urban Development, CMDA and Thiruverkadu Municipality) to demolish the entire superstructure that was being put up on the above agricultural land, and grant an order of ad interim injunction restraining respondents 5 to 7 from proceeding with the above construction work.

The Bench said that the Additional Government Pleader accepted notice on behalf of respondents 1, 2 & 4. So far as respondent 3 was concerned, copies might be served on its counsel. Notice was ordered to respondents 5, 6 & 7 returnable in two weeks. Status quo as on date shall be maintained till that date.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 9, 2006)
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