Munnar land issue: CMO for change of counsel; minister refuses

CMO is learned to have ‘informally’ asked the AG to have a senior counsel to appear for the state in cases related to Munnar in the Chenna Bench of the tribunal.

Published: 16th September 2017 01:01 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th September 2017 08:39 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The tussle between LDF allies CPM and CPI over the Munnar land issue has taken an ugly turn with the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) asking the Advocate General (AG) to replace the Additional AG Ranjith Thampan for representing the government in cases before the Green Tribunal and Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan sticking to his stand Thampan should appear. The CMO is learned to have ‘informally’ asked the AG to have a senior counsel such as the Solicitor General or Additional Solicitor General to appear for the state in cases related to Munnar in the Chennai Bench of the tribunal.

However, Chandrasekharan’s office has written to the AG there is no need for a senior counsel and that Thampan will represent all revenue-related cases. The CMO’s ‘suggestion’ came after an all-party delegation led by Devikulam MLA S Rajendran submitted a memorandum to it alleging the Additional AG was taking a stand against the government’s decision at the tribunal.However, Chandrasekharan said it was Revenue Department’s prerogative to decide who should appear before the Green Tribunal in land-related cases. He refuted the delegation’s allegation the Additional AG was not presenting government’s stand before the tribunal and said there was no dispute regarding Thampan handling the cases.   

The delegation had held discussions with Chandrasekharan too. In the memorandum to the CMO, they demanded a senior counsel be appointed to lead the team at the tribunal. They also recommended the government should file a leave petition before the tribunal on September 22 when the case is to be heard. 
They alleged the Additional AG’s stand is against the decisions taken at the meeting called by the Chief Minister on March 27, May 7 and July 1.

Despite the decisions, the government counsel is in a hurry to get an interim order in the cases. They asked the CM to ensure the earlier decisions taken by the government on Munnar land issues were reflected in the tribunal. Two cases related to Munnar are pending before Green Tribunal. One pertains to the destruction of Neelakurunji park and the other is on illegal land encroachments and constructions in Munnar. Sources alleged some plantations in the region are behind the move. “The all-party delegation had vested interests and their move is only to safeguard plantations’ interests,” they alleged.

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