CHENNAI: A division bench of the Madras High Court has delivered a split verdict in a matter relating to assignment of vast tract of land in favour of Shanmuga Arts, Science, Technology, Research Academy, a Deemed to be University, in Thanjavur.
Justice Nooty Ramamohana Rao (since retired) has suggested that the government can assign the land in question after collecting `10 crore from the university. However, the other judge, Justice SM Subramaniyam, held a contrary opinion. He said that no land can be assigned to SASTRA. He also suggested penal action.
Now the matter is sent to Chief Justice Indira Banerjee for placing it before a third judge for majority opinion. The matter relates to the alleged encroachment of government poromboke land to the extent of 58.17 acres on the outskirts of Thanjavur by SASTRA.
Originally, the university appealed to the Special Commissioner and Commissioner of Land Administration who rejected its plea to allot the land. It preferred a writ petition and a single judge held that the land can be assigned to the petitioner. The government had made several such assignments to various institutions such as Periyar Maniammal Educational and Charitable Trust, Vellore Engineering College and the South Indian Film Employees Sammelanam.
The same treatment might be extended to SASTRA too, he had said. Aggrieved, the State Revenue department preferred the present appeal. And Justice Rao, senior judge, directed the government to re-consider its decision on payment of `10 crores by the said university for assigning the land in its favour.
Non-consideration of the university’s plea would amount to discrimination, as there were precedents.
In his order Justice Subramaniam directed the State to vacate the encroacher (university) from the encroached portion of the government land and to take possession of the same within four weeks. He also directed the government to fence the land and provide 24X7 days security.