MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court on Tuesday came down heavily on the Tamil Nadu government for a whopping 54 years of delay in paying compensation for a piece of land acquired to establish a bus depot at Palani.
"Neither the government nor its officials are interested in the welfare of the citizens and honouring the orders of this court. It is almost 54 years now since the land was acquired. This can happen only in this country and with these government officials," Justice R Subramanian, hearing the case, said.
Hearing a time extension application from the State on Tuesday, the judge narrated the facts that led to the application “to demonstrate how lethargic, indifferent and cruel are the government officials while dealing with the rights of the citizens”.
The government acquired nearly 1.03 acre (44,790 sq. ft.) of land at Sivagiripatti village in Palani to establish a State Transport Corporation Depot in 1967. The Land Acquisition Officer fixed a sum of Rs 1.70 per sq ft as compensation in 1971. Thirty years later, on July 16, 2004, the compensation was enhanced to Rs 7.82 per sq ft.
This was challenged by the Land Acquisition Officer but the officer's appeal was dismissed by the high court and the award amount was confirmed on January 6, 2007. The legal heirs of the claimants filed an execution petition the same year seeking payment of the award amount.
The execution court, on October 21, 2010, directed the attachment of tables and chairs in the Palani Revenue Divisional Officers office. Challenging this, a civil revision petition was filed in 2011. While hearing the petition, it was found that out of the total compensation of Rs 32.75 lakh, Rs 7.33 lakh was paid by the authorities in 2005.
Directing them to pay the remaining amount of Rs 25.42 lakh within three months, the court disposed of the said revision petition in October 2018. However, the authorities approached the court once again in 2019 with an application seeking an extension of time to pay the amount.
Sharply criticising the officials, the judge nonetheless granted the authorities a final opportunity -- till March 25, 2021 -- warning that if the balance amount is not paid by that date then the Dindigul collector should appear before the court.