CHENNAI: In a big blow to Tamil Nadu's principal opposition party AIADMK's desperate attempts to bring back late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s Veda Nilayam residence as a memorial, the Madras High Court on Wednesday, January 5, 2022, dismissed the appeals filed by the party and former Law Minister CV Shanmugam challenging the single judge’s order quashing the acquisition proceedings.
Concurring with the single judge’s order finding the acquisition, initiated by the previous AIADMK government, procedurally illegal, the bench consisting of justices Paresh Upadhyay and Sathi Kumar Sukumara Kurup said it is neither legal nor proper to give an order to the present government to stick to the decision of its predecessor when there is no public purpose and against the wish of owners (legal heirs) of the property.
The bench disapproved of the contentions of AIADMK and Shanmugam that the party thought it not necessary to make itself a party in the writs, on which the single judge issued orders, as the then government was pursuing what the party wanted. And now, the party wants the decision of the then government to be pursued by the present government.
“This stand indicates that AIADMK, at the relevant time, misconstrued itself as appropriate government, which, it was not. The AIADMK, which led the government at the relevant time, desired to acquire Veda Nilayam, a private residential property, wherein late J Jayalalithaa lived, for being converted into a memorial,” the judges noted.
They stated that the government had acquired Veda Nilayam only because the AIADMK, which was heading the government, wanted to do so.
The above would also lead to a situation where the first appellant, a political party, which by the very stand it has taken, reduced itself to the status akin to the requiring, is heard contending that the public would be served by acquiring the private residential property for being converted into a memorial against the wish of the owners thereof that too when the present government of the time is not willing to do so.
“According to us, it would be neither legal nor proper to give any such direction,” the bench said.
The points at issue having been answered, in the facts of the cases, according to us, other arguments by the appellants would not take the case any further. For the above reasons appeals were dismissed, the judges said.
Referring to the public purpose behind converting a ‘private residence’ into a memorial for the late leader of AIADMK, the judges noted, “... we are unable to bring the acquisition of the property in question within four corners of public purpose under sections 3 (za) of the RFCTLARR Act, 2013 read with any of the clauses under sub-section (1) of section 2 of the said Act.”
The single judge, justice N Seshasayee, on November, 24, passed the orders quashing the proceedings of the previous government for acquiring Veda Nilayam to convert it into a memorial. He found procedural illegalities in the acquisition and no public purpose was served, apart from observing the entire act amounted to waste of public money.
Subsequently, the district collector of Chennai handed over the keys of Veda Nilayam to Jayalalithaa’s niece J Deepa and nephew J Deepak.