Madras High Court on Friday observed that even if ‘God’ encroached public space, the Courts will order the removal of such encroachments. Safeguard of public interest and rule of law must be held; hence this was observed.
The encroachment made by Arulmighu Palapattarai Mariamman Tirukoil on a public street was highly criticized by the High Court. The court stated that they were not concerned with who or in what name the encroachment would be made, a strict action for removal would be taken.
The second appeal which was filed by the temple against the lower appellate court judgment and decree restraining to put up construction in Mariamman Koil street was heard by Justice N. Anand Venkatesh.
After the reports were submitted by the Advocate Commissioner, the court disapproved of the temple proceeding with the construction. The single bench also criticized the conduct of the Municipality. A notice was sent to the defendant temple to stop the encroachments made on the public street by the Municipality.
Later on, when the case was filed, it took the stand that the Government was in control of the street as it was a Sarkar Poramboke land. The court agreed with the appellate court and said that the pleas cannot justify the act of the temple.
“In the present case, it is quite unfortunate that the 2nd defendant Municipality virtually attempted to wash off their hands by blindly supporting a flagrant encroachment made by the 1st defendant Temple. This sudden change of stand taken by the 2nd defendant was probably due to some official who was handling the case wrongly understanding the term “God Fearing”.
Another stance taken by the defendants was that the Government was an added party since the schedule property was categorized as poramboke land. The bench remarked that this hypertechnical plea wouldn’t wash the public wrong committed by the temple.
The court relied on K.Sudarsan & Ors. Vs. The Commissioner, Corporation of Madras & Ors. to observe that the right of the general public to use inches of highway or a public street could not be changed. Thus, the court said that there was no requirement for the plaintiffs to establish any right of the easement to the property.
Concluding this, the second defendant Municipality was responsible to maintain streets for the general public and even had records mentioning the same. The lower court also rendered that a tar road in the street was removed when the case was filed. There was space for only one person to barely go through the street due to the temple’s construction.
The photographs which were produced in the Court showed that the plaintiffs had taken complete preventive measures from having any access to the public street from the property. Keeping this in mind, the High Court refused to improve the judgment and the decree made by the lower court was in favor of the plaintiffs.