Clearing the decks for an important stretch of the Metro Rail project, including a station, the Madras High Court has given the go-ahead by upholding a Government Order (GO) pertaining to resumption of land contiguous to the Central Railway Station.
The court set aside the common order of a single judge dated November 26, 2012 on a batch of writ petitions from a group of shop owners.
The Division Bench of Justice Elipe Dharma Rao (since retired) and Justice M Venugopal also upheld the GO while allowing a batch of writ appeals from the government and the Chennai Metro Rail Ltd.
The single judge had set aside the May 21, 2012 GO on the ground that no individual notice had been served on the petitioners and no compensation given. The judge had remitted the matter back to the government to pass fresh orders.
Allowing the appeals, the Bench observed that the properties in question undoubtedly belonged to the government and were vested with Raja Sir Ramaswamy Mudaliar in 1888 for a specific charitable purpose.
By virtue of the subsequent orders of the HC, the hereditary trustees were removed and the properties continued to vest with the Administrator General and Official Trustee (AG&OT) of the High Court.
It was only the possession of the properties that could vest with the Trust and the government was the owner of the said asset. It was the specific stand of the government that the terms of the lease had been violated. With commercial activities going on, the government undoubtedly has grounds to take over the land, the bench observed.
With regard to the appellants’ contention that the building had been recognised as a heritage one, the Bench said that even as per the sketch and report filed by the CMRL, they were taking every caution to preserve the heritage monuments.
Above all, the metro was a joint venture of both the State and Central governments to significantly enhance the public transport system and thus undoubtedly a public project, the bench said.