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Madras High Court has harsh words for Tamil Nadu bureaucracy, impleads Chief Secretary in land acquisition case

This order has been given by Justice N. Seshasayee. The notification of intended land acquisition was published in a certain daily called 'Trinity Mirror'

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The Madras High Court on Friday condemned the Tamil Nadu bureaucracy while underlining the publication of an intended (land) acquisition in little-known newspapers may amount to a fraud on the statute, and a fraud on the right to property of the citizens.

This order has been given by Justice N. Seshasayee. The notification of an intended land acquisition was published in a certain daily called ‘Trinity Mirror’, which is said to have wide circulation in Hosur Taluk.

The Court stated that not only the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, but even the State Enactments on the land acquisition require newspaper publication at least in one English and one vernacular newspaper having wide circulation in that locality.

The word ‘locality’ is not defined, whether it will mean a particular village where the property is situated, or the Taluk or the District concerned.

Secondly, it is not known whether this daily ‘Trinity Mirror’ has such wide circulation throughout the District, and what is the need to opt for this daily when there are other popular newspapers with greater circulation.

Thirdly, whether circulation implies mere sale of number of copies of the newspaper, or does it amount to readership.

The Court observed,

“If the intent of the statute is to ensure that the notification of an intended acquisition reaches as many people in the locality as possible, then it can only signify the readership, and not the sale of newspaper copies.”

The Court cited 4 ruling wherein the Supreme Court as well High Court has frowned upon the practice of causing paper publication in less known newspaper with least known circulation in a locality.

“This Court is at a loss to understand why after two decades, the bureaucracy has not considered it necessary to appreciate what the law on subject is (while citing 4 rulings on the subject matter). Should the Court presume that the bureaucracy has not considered Article 261 of the Constitution of this country as worthy of respect?”

-the Court further observed.

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This Court, hence, suo motu impleaded the Chief Secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu, as the fifth respondent in this matter.

The Court has now posted the matter for further hearing on February 12.

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