THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kovalam Palace has once again courted controversy with the Advocate General in his latest report suggesting the government hand over the palace to its present owners, the Ravi Pillai (RP) Group.
However, the Revenue Department has informed the Chief Minister the government should only accord possession rights and reserve the right to file a civil suit. The department is learnt to have handed over the file related to the palace along with its suggestions to the Chief Minister three days ago.
Contrary to the department view, expert opinions, including that of the Attorney General and the Law Department, strongly advise handing over of the palace to the RP group.
The Advocate General has also said a civil suit would not stand in court.
Meanwhile, sources privy to the development said there was a discreet move to hand over the property to the group. “ It is doubtful if the rights will be reserved. Political will is needed to preserve the public land and the palace,” they said.
Earlier, the Advocate General, who has now favoured the RP group, had advised the government to hand over possession of the palace but to retain absolute right over the building and the land. The AG had said the ownership should always be retained by the government.
The Chief Minister had recently sought the AG’s opinion after his first report was in contrast to the recommendations of the Attorney General and the Law Department.The row over the palace began to brew in 2004 after India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) sold the hotel to a private group as part of its disinvestment drive. Later, the ownership changed hands and the government had been waging a legal battle to retain the palace and the adjoining land.