The Madras High Court has taken suo moto notice of the issue of encroachment of public land.
A division bench comprising Justice N. Kirubakaran and Justice R. Pongiappan observed that the government land is being "knocked away" by private parties "in collusion with the Government officials", by using political influence, money power and muscle power.
The remarks were made in a dispute regarding the title of a property. The Petitioner had contended that the land in question was a government-owned land, and was a subject matter of dispute before the District Court.
He pointed out that the original Plaintiff in that suit claimed the land to be his private property and sought permission for construction. That suit was initially resisted by the govt., which later virtually withdrew from the proceedings, as it did not file the written statement.
The Petitioner has contended that this situation reeks of collusion between the plaintiff and the government officials, in order to deceive the government of its land, for personal gain.
The court was further informed that the concerned court had reserved judgment in the case after recording exparte evidence.
Taking a stern view of the same, the high court has stayed all further proceedings in the said case. It said that if the judgment is allowed to be pronounced, valuable property of the Government will be knocked away.
"Though this Court is not inclined to go into the issue with regard to the dispute regarding the title of the property, the facts would reveal that the Government Pleader's conduct is suspicious. It seems that he has colluded with the sixth respondent as a result of which written statement has not been filed.
Therefore, there shall be an order of interim stay of all further proceedings until further orders," the court said.
The court further observed that this case was merely "the tip of the iceberg". It noted that the value of the lands has gone up and therefore, the lands have to be preserved for public purposes. Accordingly, it suo motu impleaded the Government of Tamil Nadu as a party and directed it to answer the following queries within three weeks:
- How many acres of Government/Poramboke lands are available?
- What is the extent of the properties which have been encroached upon?
- How many proceedings have been initiated to retrieve those properties?
- How many proceedings are pending before various Courts with regard to encroachment or illegal occupation of Government lands/ Poramboke lands and what is the stage of those proceedings?
- How many cases have been left undefended by the Government Pleaders in various Courts throughout Tamil Nadu?
- What are all the actions taken against those Government Pleaders as well as the Government Officials for not defending the cases to protect the public/Government/Poramboke properties?
- Why not the Government form a separate wing to identify the encroached public/Government/Poramboke properties and initiate proceedings to retrieve them and protect the available properties by fencing them?
- Why not the Government upload the details of public/Government/Poramboke properties in the website, so that everybody get to know the details of such properties?
- Whether the Government has given the details of public/Government/Poramboke properties to the concerned district registration office to prohibit the Sub-Registrars from registering any document concerning such properties?
- If it is not so, why not the Government give the details of public/Government/Poramboke properties to the concerned district registration office?
Case Title: SV Subbiah v. Bar Council of Tamil Nadu & Ors.
Case No.: WP No. 2816/2020
Quorum: Justice N. Kirubakaran and Justice R. Pongiappan