Madras High Court calls for legislation against land grabbingtext_fields
Chennai: The Madras High Court has expressed deep concern over the issue of land grabbing, emphasising the urgent need for legislation to address this problem.
The court has directed the Tamil Nadu government to investigate the structural corruption associated with the illegal acquisition of government-owned lands and take appropriate legal action to prevent such activities.
Justice S M Subramaniam issued this directive while rejecting a plea from M/s Hotel Saravana Bhavan, which had requested authorities to grant a "patta" (land ownership document) for 3.45 acres of land in Koyembedu, Chennai. The petitioner intended to construct a shopping mall and hypermarket on the land with an investment of Rs 1,575 crore. However, the present DMK government had cancelled the land allocation, which was granted by the previous AIADMK government just before the 2021 Assembly elections.
Justice Subramaniam ruled that the petitioner was not entitled to receive the land ownership document, as the facts and documents presented clearly indicated that the petitioner had encroached upon government land for personal gain, with the alleged involvement of government officials and influential individuals.
The judge expressed grave concerns about the rising cases of land grabbing and the systematic collusion between land grabbers, government officials, and influential figures. He called for the introduction of special legislation to penalise land grabbing and urged the government to initiate criminal proceedings against those involved.
Furthermore, Justice Subramaniam ordered authorities to take immediate possession of the government-owned land in question, secure the property with fencing, and utilise it for the greater public good in accordance with constitutional principles. The judge also directed the authorities to initiate criminal prosecution and disciplinary action against all responsible parties, including government officials and public servants, involved in land grabbing across Tamil Nadu.
The court also instructed the government to establish a High-Level Committee tasked with identifying cases of government land grabbing, irregularities in dealing with government property, recovery of unpaid lease rents, and illegal occupation of government-owned properties. This committee will be responsible for taking appropriate action, including criminal prosecution, to safeguard the state's financial interests and protect the rights of the vulnerable population in Tamil Nadu.