MADRAS HIGH COURT (MADURAI BENCH) ADMITS AND GRANTS INTERIM ORDER ON DMK MLA DR PTR PALANIVEL THIAGARAJAN’s PETITION CHALLENGING AMENDMENT ACT NO.24 of 2020 AMENDING TAMILNADU TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING ACT 1971
[3/11, 13:32] Sekarreporter1: MADRAS HIGH COURT (MADURAI BENCH) ADMITS AND GRANTS INTERIM ORDER ON DMK MLA DR PTR PALANIVEL THIAGARAJAN’s PETITION CHALLENGING AMENDMENT ACT NO.24 of 2020 AMENDING TAMILNADU TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING ACT 1971
A PIL has been filed in the Madurai Bench by DMK MLA Dr PTR P Thiagarajan challenging the Amendment Act No.24 of 2020 amending Tamilnadu Town and Country Planning Act 1971 as illegal and unconstitutional as it takes away the rights of the owners in the process of acquisition of land for any public purpose by the government.
Appearing for the petitioner Mr Puhazh Gandhi P contented that Art-300 A of the Constitution of India recognizes property rights of a person as a constitutional right and protects a person from arbitrary deprivation of property rights except in accordance with due process of law. Property right is of paramount importance for any economy as arbitrary deprivation of this right may violate ‘right to equality’ under Art 14 and ‘right to life’ under Art 21 of the Constitution of India.
Further pursuant to the constitutional right mentioned above, the Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act 1971 provides for safeguards to owners of properties from arbitrary deprivation in the name of acquiring the property for public good/cause by the authorities. The Act mandates the authorities to prepare a ‘detailed development plan’ before acquiring any property from any person. Once the detailed development plan is prepared by the Local Planning Authority (‘LPA’) and submitted to the Director and on his approval, the plan and purpose of acquiring the property will be notified in the gazette. Therefore, the Act provides basically for three stages before a detailed development plan is approved and notified by the Director.
Further a detailed development plan is proposed to develop a particular area for the benefit of the local residents. Therefore, the local residents have a right to know the proposal for developing the area before it is notified because once notified the residents/owners can only make objections or propose modifications within the four corners of detailed development plan. Therefore, Sec 21 gains paramount importance which mandates the LPA to consult the owners of the lands before preparation of detailed development plan. ‘Public Consultation’ is part of any democratic set up. Further when the owners are directly getting affected by the preparation of the detailed development plan, it is in all fairness and natural justice, owners need to be consulted before any such plan is drafted.
Also Sec 20(2)(b) mandates to mention the details of the owners in the detailed development plan- the object and purpose is that owners should be made aware that their property is under a proposed acquisition through a detailed development plan. In case the details of the owners are not mentioned in the detailed development plan, owners will not know of the fact that their land is under a development plan and cannot make any objection or comments when the detailed development plan is notified. Further Sec 20(2)(C) mandates that the plan should mention whether the area under the plan is public or private. The purpose is to inform the general public particularly the owners as to the status of their lands/buildings with respect to the plan.
Thus the combined intent and effect of Sec 20(2)(b), Sec 20(2)(c) and Sec 21 is to ensure that owners of the lands/buildings should be heard and should not be left out when the authority prepares the detailed development plan as otherwise an owner will be stripped of his property by the authorities without even the owner realizing the fact. Thus, these provisions are the legal protection available to the owners from any arbitrary exercise of powers by the authorities.
However the government with a view to remove the role of owners, amended the Town and Country Planning Act through the present amendment under challenge, and remove the owners from the participation. The amendment removed the ‘prior consultation with owners’ in Sec 21, Sec 21(2)(b) is amended to remove the mentioning of ownership details in the plan plus removed the details whether the lands under acquisition are public or private (Sec 20(2)(c))
Thus the owner will come to know only after the plan is published in the official gazette that his lands are proposed to be acquired under the plan. Petitioner Dr PTR Thiagarajan MLA contented in his petition that this is the most draconian amendment as no owner can effectively challenge any acquisition after the plan is published thus the owners will be ripped off their property without even a owner realizing it which is unconstitutional.
The present illegal amendment is passed by the govt mainly to facilitate acquisitions for various corporates and also the Salem High way project. DMK has opposed this amendment in the Assembly and voted against it. If this amendment is allowed to sustain, everyone in the state will be robbed off their property rights at the instance of corporate lobbies without following any procedure. Hence this amendment needs to be struck down.
Hearing the arguments of counsel Mr Puhazh Gandhi P for the Petitioner Dr PTR Thiagarajan MLA, Hon’ble Justice M M Sundaresh and Hon’ble Justice Mrs Ananthi admitted the writ petition and also passed an interim order making any acquisition made so far by the government will be subject to the outcome of the writ petition.
[3/11, 13:34] Sekarreporter1: ☘️