CHENNAI: Besides restoring the operation of its September 9, 2016, order, which had granted a blanket stay on registration of buildings constructed on unapproved layouts and agricultural lands, the first Bench of the Madras High Court on Friday directed the authorities concerned to furnish the details of property registered illegally from that date.
This direction from the Bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar on Friday followed an allegation from advocate ‘Elephant’ G Rajendran that the registrars, joint registrars and sub-registrars, with the connivance of influential politicians and realtors, had registered documents numbering about four lakh illegally from September 9 last year. In support of his claim, Rajendran cited the sudden transfer of the Inspector-General of Registration last night.
“Let the government file an affidavit denying this averment,” he said. The restoration of the ban on registration of unapproved plots will remain effective for the next three weeks or until further orders, the Bench said and added that it will make special sittings from May 4 to hear the batch of petitions and miscellaneous petitions from Rajendran and the ones from realtors and others challenging the stay.
When Rajendran, whose PIL led to the blanket ban on unapproved layouts and conversion of farm lands into housing plots, said at least four lakh unapproved plots were sold and registered illegally even after the September 9 ban order and that it was a gross contempt of court, the Bench said such registrations would be ‘undoubtedly a nullity.’
Even registration and resale of property following the March 28 modified order, are subject to the outcome of the writ petitions, the Bench added.
Taking a lenient view of the matter, that too after an amendment to TN Registration Act inserting Sec. 22-A, the first bench, then led by Chief Justice S K Kaul on March 28 had allowed the resale and re-registration of unapproved plots that had already been sold and registered.
Earlier, senior advocate Nalini Chidambaram said modifying the March 28 order would send a confusing message to the general public.
Advocate V B R Menon said the September 9, 2016 order of blanket ban on registration of unapproved layouts had instilled a fear of law on violators. The March 28 relaxation order has resulted in creating two classes of land owners and the notification allowing resale of registered unapproved plots was an act which did not have any nexus between the law and object that is sought to be achieved.
Senior counsel Ramakrishnan, representing the interveners, said the March 28 order exempting resale of already registered unapproved plots gave a very small window to farmers and individual landowners who want to sell their property for family emergencies such as wedding, education and medical treatment. It could be continued even as court considers the other bigger issue of PILs concerning unapproved layouts.