CHENNAI: Buhari Hotel, a landmark for decades opposite the Central Railway Station, will vanish, paving the way for the Metro Rail.
Clearing the decks for the landmark to be razed, the Madras High Court with a “heavy he art” dismissed the petition of Buhari Sons even while admitting violation of Rule of Law in the resumption of lands.
Justice V Dhanapalan, after hearing the petition challenging the GO directing the group to vacate the land and hand over possession for Chennai Metro Rail Project, in a common order said the Court was constrained to hold that there is a violation of Rule of Law by the authorities. “With a heavy heart, by giving due respect to the ratio decidendi of the Supreme Court, we are left with no other choice but to follow the same under Article 141 of the Constitution,” the judge said. The petitioners were tenants of the building constructed by a Trust, the Rajah Sir Ramasamy Mudaliar Choultry. The bone of contention is the 1.33-acre land, given to build a choultry in 1888.
In 1958 the government allowed A M Buhari to construct the building and carry out business and a lease deed was executed on January 31, 1959 for 20 years with an option for renewal. Thereafter a GO was issued vesting the land with the Official Trustee under a scheme framed by the High Court.
The Court observed that the Government did not take any order either from the scheme court or from the Administrator General and Official Trustee (AGOT) Court. “Though there were attempts by the executive to file applications — one by Chennai Metro Rail Limited and the other by District Collector, subsequently, the same were withdrawn. So, it is clear that there was no order made by AGOT Court, the court of competent jurisdiction to permit handover of the possession of the land in its control to the government, for resumption,” the Court observed.
The government bypassing an act under which the entrustment has been made, would amount to violation of the basic structure of the Constitution and the power of separation which has been demarcated could not be usurped by one organ on its own, it was noted.
“The facts and the position in law are that the buildings constructed on the piece of government land did not belong to government, the petitioners were in possession of the buildings and by virtue of enactments binding on the Government, the petitioners could be dispossessed, if at all, only in pursuance of a decree of a Civil Court obtained in proceedings properly initiated,” the court added.