Remove encroachments in 2 weeks, HC tells Chettinad Cements

The Madras High Court today directed the Ariyalur district collector and its sub-collector to recover the government land encroached upon by the Chettinad Cement Corporation Ltd within two weeks.

Also, the court said the Tamil Nadu government should probe into the collusion with the authorities concerned in letting the corporate encroach upon the land.

Justice S M Subramaniam, disposing of a petition from the cement company, said, "In this case, it is categorically admitted even by the petitioner that the government poramboke lands, which are water bodies, have been encroached upon by the petitioner."

"Thus, there cannot be any leniency or misplaced sympathy in respect of such encroachments of the land and the authorities are duty-bound to protect the land", the judge said.

The petition was filed by the Chettinad Cement Corporation Ltd, Ariyalur, seeking to quash the proceedings initiated by the sub-collector directing the company to vacate the land in their possession.

The company had sent a letter to the revenue secretary in 2009 seeking permission to utilise the government poramboke lands in exchange of the patta land.

It is alleged by the corporate when their representation for the use of the poramboke land was pending consideration by the government, the sub-collector, who is the subordinate officer, directed the firm to remove the railway track laid by it as it had exceeded the jurisdiction and not obeyed the orders of the superiors.

When the representation sent by the petitioner was pending before the government, no action can be taken by the sub-collector, who is only a subordinate authority.

If the corporates start encroaching upon the public land with the fond hope that they can violate the rule of law and get permission from the government in their own way, then the courts cannot be a mute spectator, the judge said.

Stating that the court cannot have any objection to the development of an industry, he said, "Such industries cannot encroach upon the government land, which is not only a water body, but also used as a pathway by the villagers and the people in the locality."

Thus, the collusion in this regard by the authorities are also to be investigated into by the government, the judge said.

There is a possibility of corruption also and the investigating authority must examine that based on the internal correspondence shared between the respondents for several years and thereby allowing the petitioner to enjoy the land for many years, he said.

On the order challenged by the Chettinad Cements in the petition, the judge said, On perusal of the impugned order, the sub-collector has categorically made a finding that the petitioner has encroached upon the land and laid railway tracks by digging up the land for a depth of 30 feet and a breadth of 60 ft. Besides, the land suggested for exchange was classified as 'cart track poramboke land".

Therefore, the petitioner has made an attempt to cheat the government by providing another government land in exchange, he said, adding that this warrants action under the Tamil Nadu Land Encroachment Act, 1905.


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