CHENNAI: Holding that unauthorised occupants of public places such as waterbodies had no legal right to alternative accommodation, the Madras High Court has permitted officials to remove encroachments at Sholinganallur here following the due process of law.
A Division Bench of Justice P.D. Dinakaran and Justice R. Regupathi, passing orders on a writ appeal and a batch of writ petitions, said: “Once we disagree that there is no promissory estoppel on the part of the authorities either against the eviction proceedings or in favour of providing alternative accommodation to the unauthorised occupants, the unauthorised occupants are not clothed with any legal right for rehabilitation or seeking any alternative accommodation. The provision of alternative accommodation, therefore, is purely a policy decision to be taken by the Government and decided by the authorities concerned.”
The Bench wondered how it could pass an order prohibiting the authorities “who proposed to exercise their lawful power conferred” under the relevant Act.
The matter relates to the encroachment on Eri and Periya Eri poromboke land at Sholinganallur by hundreds of families. While the Sholinganallur Kumaran Nagar Pakuthi Vaal Makkal Nala Munnetra Sangam claimed that 700 families would be affected by the encroachment removal drive, the Bench said only 240 families had come before the court.
The petitioners said they were living in the place for more than 30 years, and they were entitled to notice before eviction. They claimed that the Revenue Inspector had no authority to initiate eviction proceedings.
Pointing out that proviso to Section 7 of the Land Encroachment Act made it clear that the Revenue Inspector or any officer specified would be authorised to issue notice to unauthorised occupants, the Bench said the plea for restraining the officials from evicting the petitioners was misconceived.
The Bench said waterbodies formed an essential part of natural resources and encroachment on such places would have an adverse impact on the lives of people.
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