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Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court asks Collectors to remove encroachments in public places in regions within its jurisdiction.

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Wednesday asked Collectors under its jurisdiction to strictly comply with its orders, passed on April 26 last year, to remove encroachments in public places.

Madurai, Theni, Dindigul, Sivaganga, Virudhunagar, Tirunelveli, Tuticorin, Ramanathapuram, Kanyakumari, Pudukottai, Thanjavur, Tiruchi and Karur come under its jurisdiction.

A Division Bench comprising Justice D. Murugesan and P. Murgesen pointed out that there had been large-scale shuffling of officers since the orders were passed and hence the incumbents should be made aware of the 2005 orders, which mandates filing of periodical status reports to the Registrar (judicial) of the Bench.

The judges said even now several writ petitions seeking to remove encroachments were being continually filed before the Bench, despite the categorical orders passed by a Full Bench.

The observations were made while hearing a writ petition seeking a direction to remove some encroachments adjacent to the Government Hospital at Tirupattur in Sivaganga district. The Collector, M.A. Siddique, was present during the hearing.

Initially, passing orders on a public interest litigation petition, a Division Bench of Justice P.D. Dinakaran and Justice Prabha Sridevan on February 17, 2005, directed the Collectors/ Municipal commissioners/ local body authorities in the 13 districts to take effective steps to remove the encroachments by following due process of law.

Pursuant to the Division Bench orders, numerous petitions were filed before the Bench alleging that the officials were evicting residents and demolishing structures by simply citing the High Court order without even issuing a prior notice.

Hence, a Full Bench comprising Justice P.K. Misra, Justice D. Murugesan and Justice A.R. Ramalingam was constituted to resolve the issue.

The Full Bench on April 26, 2005 laid down elaborate procedures to be followed under different statutes such as the Tamil Nadu Municipalities Act, National Highways Act, Tamil Nadu Public Premises (eviction of unauthorised occupants) Act and so on.

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