Friday, March 31, 2023

Madras High Court imposes Rs 10,000 cost on PIL petitioner

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The Madras High Court has imposed a cost of Rs 10,000 on the petitioner of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) while dismissing it.

The PIl had alleged encroachment of Government Poramboke land (Land that does not fall under the list of revenue records) situated at V. Kalathur Village, Veppanthattai Taluk, Perambalur District. The allegation has been made against the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department for encroachment.

The PIL filed by one V. Fahath Basha argued that the land in question is Government Poramboke land and a reference to the records has been given, where the land in question has been shown to be Nandhavanam.

The State Government Pleader and the counsel for the HR&CE Department have contested the petition alleging it to be motivated for extraneous consideration. The land in question has been classified as Nandhavanam and it was kept under the temple controlled by the HR & CE Department of the State of Tamil Nadu. Thus, the Executive Officer of HR & CE Department or the temple has not encroached the Government land, rather taking into consideration the nature of the land, it was given to them and it was accordingly occupied. The possession on the land is very old and thereby the petitioner should have justified the delay for filing this petition. Otherwise, the petition even suffers from laches.

To analyze as to whether there is any encroachment, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice N. Mala perused the records, where the land is shown to be Nandhavanam and accordingly it is kept under the temple controlled by the HR&CE Department.

In view of the above, the Bench observed that the land is in possession of the HR & CE Department for the past many years ie., more than decades. The petitioner has filed the PIL even without justifying the delay because, according to the learned counsel for the petitioner, the land was possessed by the temple under the control of the HR&CE Department almost 10 to 12 years back.

Therefore, the present PIL cannot be said to be bonafide as otherwise alleged by the respondents. Public interest litigation filed unnecessarily needs to be strictly dealt with so that it may not be filed without verification of true facts, the Court held.

“For the above reasons, finding it to be a not bonafide public interest litigation, the writ petition is dismissed with a cost of Rs 10,000 to be deposited with the Tamil Nadu State Legal Services Authority, High Court, Chennai 600 104 within a period of one month from the date of receipt of a copy of this order. The compliance would be seen by the Registrar (Judicial) and if the payment of costs is not made within the time stipulated above, the case would be listed before this Court to see the compliance or take appropriate action for non-compliance,” the order reads.

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