19 Sep 2023 1:26 PM GMT
The Madras High Court recently directed DMK MP Dr. V Kalanidhi to vacate the Government Land, where he was running a private hospital, within one month and directed the government authorities to initiate actions to recover all; lawful dues from him as per law. “The petitioner (Kalanidhi), being the sitting Member of Parliament, one month's time is granted to him to vacate the...
The Madras High Court recently directed DMK MP Dr. V Kalanidhi to vacate the Government Land, where he was running a private hospital, within one month and directed the government authorities to initiate actions to recover all; lawful dues from him as per law.
“The petitioner (Kalanidhi), being the sitting Member of Parliament, one month's time is granted to him to vacate the entire subject property belonging to the Government and hand over possession to the Competent Authorities of the Government of Tamil Nadu. In the event of failure on the part of the petitioner in handing over the subject property to the Competent Authorities of the Government of Tamil Nadu, on or before 15.10.2023, the Respondents are directed to evict the petitioner immediately and resume the subject. The respondents are directed to initiate all further actions to recover the use and occupation charges or other lawful charges due to the Government as per law by following the procedures as contemplated,” the court said.
Justice SM Subramaniam rejected Kalanidhi’s submission that the land was “Grama Natham” which he had acquired from Vendors who were the owners of the property and hence the Government did not have any right over the land. The court noted that the land had been classified as “Government Puramboke” land and thus, the MP was encroaching on the land.
“Grama Natham” also called House Sites are grounds set apart for the construction of houses by the Villagers. When a natham is unoccupied, it is classified as “Poramboke Natham” where the Government acts as a custodian and allocates the land to individuals for the construction of houses.
The court added that even assuming the land was not reclassified as Government Puramboke land, the Grama Natham lands were meant for housing the poor and could not be used for commercial purposes. Thus, the court noted that the Government was duty-bound to regulate the Grama Natham lands for the benefit of homeless poor people without any discrimination.
The court also emphasized that when Grama Natham lands were used for a larger extent or for commercial purposes, it was not only impermissible but also infringed the basic rights of homeless poor citizens of the country.
“Occupation of 'Grama Natham' lands to a larger extent and usage of such 'Grama Natham' lands for commercial purposes are not only impermissible but also unconstitutional. The very purpose of classification of 'Grama Natham' lands are to provide shelter to homeless poor people and therefore, any abuse of such 'Grama Natham' lands are causing infringement of basic rights of the citizen, who all are homeless poor people,” the court said.
Though Kalanidhi had argued that he was granted a patta in the year 2011, the court noted that it could not rule out the possibility of political abuse, considering that Kalanidhi belonged to an affluent family, was a sitting MP, and the son of a former Minister.
The court also remarked that presently, in a multitude of cases, it was observed that the assignment of government lands was done to the powerful and influential members of the society, which itself defeated the de facto purpose and essence.
“But this Court is witnessing that in Multitude cases, the assignment of Government lands or majorly done to the powerful and influential members of the society, who may not be bonafide applicants and in turn these Government lands are used for commercial purposes. With the efflux of time, the de facto purpose or essence is washed away and or is made to seem right to the visible eyes,” the court said.
The court underlined that the Government was expected to uphold the principles of Social Justice and Equality and just because Grama Natham land did not vest with the Government, it did not take away the Government’s duty to work for the upliftment of society. Thus, the court emphasised that there was a need for guidelines to ensure that the assignment of Grama Natham land was for rightful purpose and to rightful people. The court added that elimination of inequality was the inherent philosophy of the constitution and the constitutional courts could at no circumstance tolerate government creating inequality.
“The Government is not empowered to grant lands based on their own whims and fancies. A guideline needs to be put in place to ensure that power in assignment of Grama Natham lands is bridled and used for the rightful purposes to the rightful people. The Government is not just for politicians and party men. It is the representative of the common man. It does not only include the top echelons of the society, but travels the bottom rung of the ladder and it is the inherent duty of the Government to work for their upliftment both socially and economically” the court added.
Counsel for the Petitioner: Mr.P.Wilson, Senior Counsel for M/s.P.Wilson Associates
Counsel for the Respondent: Mr.P.Kumaresan, Additional Advocate General Assisted by Mr.G.Krishna Raja, Additional Government Pleader, Mr.P.S.Raman, Senior Counsel for Ms.Rita Chandrasekar for CMRL.
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Mad) 272
Case Title: Dr. V. Kalanidhi v State of Tamil Nadu
Case No: WP No. 7051 and 7052 of 2017