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TN has acted in public interest in buying land for industrial park: HC

Our Legal Correspondent

CHENNAI, June 13

THE Madras High Court has held the acquisition of land belonging to a private individual for the purpose of setting up in the joint sector an industrial park of international standard on the east of National Highway 45, near Chengalpattu in Kancheepuram district of Tamil Nadu.

The object of the acquisition was that a number of MNCs like Ford, Hyundai Motor Corporation, etc., had set up huge automobile units for the manufacture of different kinds of motor vehicles in and around Chennai, and considering the favourable atmosphere for further establishment of auto ancillary units by attracting foreign investment world over, the Government of Tamil Nadu conceived the idea to establish the industrial park.

Dismissing writ petitions by Mr S. Harshavardhan, whose land was acquired by the Government for setting up the industrial park, Mr Justice P. Sathasivam said that according to the State Government, it was satisfied that the land was acquired for the industrial park, which would prove useful to the public. The Secretary, Industries Department, had said in his counter affidavit that they had complied with the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act of 1894 and the Land Acquisition (Companies) Rules, 1963. In such circumstances, "it is no part of the duty of this court to sit in judgement over the merits of the Government's satisfaction.

"As a matter of fact, it is my duty to point out that I find no fault with the Government for having been satisfied that the proposed industrial park would be useful to the public."

The case of the petitioner was that he purchased 4.35 hectares of land in Veerapuram and Thenmelpakkam villages in Chengalpattu Taluk in 1996. He leased out the land to Blossoms Bio-tech Ltd, Chennai for 99 years and he was the Managing Director of the company. Mahindra Industrial Park Ltd, the third respondent in the case, had proposed to acquire the land. The funds for the acquisition were not from public funds but from the company funds. The previous consent and execution of agreement with Government of Tamil Nadu had not been complied with. The land was being acquired for private company, developed and resold killing the main purpose of Government acquisition for real estate purposes, the petitioner contended. The entire land acquisition proceedings were illegal inasmuch as Rule 4(i)(ii) of the Land Acquisition (Companies) Rules had not been followed.

On behalf of the first respondent (Secretary, Industries Department), it was submitted that since he had complied with all mandatory provisions of the Act and the Rules, there was no merit in the claim made by the petitioner.

The judge said that it was not necessary that enquiry under Rule 4 must in all cases precede the issuance of notification under Section 4(1) of the Act. It was clear that Section 4 did not require Government to be satisfied; it was sufficient if it appeared to the Government that land was needed either for public purpose or for a company. The State had more than justified its stand that there had been compliance with Rule 4. Respondents 1 and 2 (Special Tahsildar (LA) Unit II, Mahindra Industrial Park Scheme, Melamayur) had fully complied with and followed Sections 39, 40, 41and 44(b) of the Act and Rules 3, 4 and 5 of the Rules.

Regarding the contention of the petitioner that enquiry under Section 5-A of the Act was not conducted in accordance with law, the records as well as the particulars furnished by the first respondent clearly showed that the objection submitted by the petitioner was beyond the prescribed period.

The judge said he did not find any merit in the writ petitions; accordingly they were dismissed.

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