Deepa moves High Court to quash Tamil Nadu govt's acquisition of Jaya's residence

The government went to the extent of promulgating an ordinance, even though there was no urgency to do so during the COVID-19 pandemic, which had hampered her legal options, said Deepa
File picture of Veda Nilayam, where former chief minister J Jayalalithaa resided for over 40 years
File picture of Veda Nilayam, where former chief minister J Jayalalithaa resided for over 40 years

CHENNAI: J Deepa, 44, the niece of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, has moved the Madras High Court to quash an order dated July 22 of the Land Acquisition Officer in Guindy enabling the TN government to acquire her aunt's residence 'Veda Nilayam' in Poes Garden to convert it into a memorial under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.

Her interim prayer is to stay the operation of the award passed by the Acquisition Officer.

She also prayed to the court to direct the Income-Tax department not to withdraw any amount from the award passed by the AO, and to permit her, her husband and brother, her assistants including jewel appraisers and technicians to make an inventory of the estate of her aunt and to the government to hand over to her the entire movables, which are precious treasure of her ancestors for decades.

After the AO had passed the award on July 22, the government deposited Rs. 67.90 crore in the Principal Sessions Court in City Civil Court situated in the Madras High Court premises. Of the amount, Rs 36.9 crore would go to the Income Tax department, as Jayalalithaa owed the amount towards income-tax and wealth tax arrears and penalties. The remaining Rs 31 crore would have to be shared between Deepa and her Deepak, who are Jayalalithaa's brother's daughter and son respectively.

The duo had been declared as the legal heirs of Jayalalithaa under Sec. 15(1)(d) of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 by a division bench of the Madras High Court, led by Justice N Kirubakaran, on May 29, this year. They were also declared as the administrators of the property, Deepa claimed in her writ petition.

Deepa submitted that the government had pronounced the ordinance to take over the property on May 22 despite her strong objections. The government went to the extent of promulgating the ordinance, even though there was no urgency to do so during the COVID-19 pandemic, which had hampered her legal options and all work related to property and court matters.

A memorial was proposed and under construction at Marina, whilst the conversion of Veda Nilayam is not at all required. The government is wickedly trying to acquire her ancestral property and convert it as a memorial. It is a sheer shame on the part of the state government by taking the personal belongings of a woman including her clothes and ornaments. It is unfair and indecent and harms the dignity of a woman. Such insults to her aunt cannot be allowed as she is like a mother to her, said Deepa.

Her family has a history in Veda Nilayam and it has several treasures from her forefathers. It had metal treasures like gold, silver, copper, platinum, diamonds and various precious items. The
antiques are of high value and heritage and were passed on to her aunt by her great grandfather who was a physician in the royal palace of Mysore, Deepa said.

The impugned order passed by the AO is illegal and against the provision of the statute. The AO is not competent to pass the impugned order. The district collector is the competent authority. Therefore the order passed by the AO is a gross violation of law. The government should act for the welfare of the people, but it acted for the welfare of the ministers. It did not take into account the market value of the property, Deepa added and sought to quash the award. The petition will come up for hearing next week.

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