A view of the Madras High Court.

A view of the Madras High Court.

The Madras High Court on Wednesday, May 15, 2024, stayed the operation of an eviction order passed by the president of the South Seppalanatham village panchayat in Cuddalore district, directing a trust, Suddha Sanmarga Nilayam in Vadalur, to vacate 1.56 acres of land declared as government waste land in the revenue records.

A Division Bench of Justices P.T. Asha and N. Senthilkumar granted the interim stay since a civil suit filed by Suddha Sanmarga Nilayam, claiming title over the property, was pending before a District Munsif court in Neyveli and the Virudhachalam Tahsildar too, was seized of a request to make changes in the revenue records.

In an affidavit filed on behalf of the petitioner trust, its secretary R. Selvaraj (80), said, the trust was founded 73 years ago to propagate the philosophical ideas and teachings of Saint Ramalinga Adigalar alias Vallalar, through the establishment of educational and charitable institutions.

Recalling that former Chief Minister Omandur Ramaswamy Reddiar was the founding trustee of the petitioner trust, the secretary said, it runs orphanages, free boarding schools for the poor and conducts educational programmes for the downtrodden and the needy.

The government alienated large tracts of lands in Seppalanatham and Managathi villages in Virudhachalam Taluk of Cuddalore district to the trust in 1951, on the recommendation of the then Collector of the erstwhile South Arcot district. These lands were classified under different survey numbers. Several conditions were imposed while alienating these properties, and the trust complied with all of those conditions. In 1969, the trust got some adjacent government lands also transferred to it on payment of ₹13,586 and steps were taken to transfer the title to its name, the secretary said.

Though 1.56 acres falling under Survey number 130/2A3 in Seerankuppam village were also under the possession of the trust all along, but the survey number did not find a mention in the transfer of property documents, the petitioner said and claimed that this inadvertent mistake was overlooked by everyone, including the trust.

Last year, the president of South Seppalanatham village panchayat developed a grudge against the trust because many of his demands were turned down, the trust alleged and stated that he began creating trouble with respect to the 1.56 acres by pointing out that they continue to be listed under government lands.

The trust immediately made an application to the Virudhachalam Taluk Tahsildar to make necessary amendments and declare the trust as the owner of the property in the revenue records. The Tahsildar conducted an inquiry on the issue by hearing both sides but is yet to take a decision.

In the meantime, the president of South Seppalanatham village panchayat had passed an eviction order on May 6, this year asking the trust to remove all the encroachments from the 1.56 acres of government waste land and therefore, the trust had filed the present writ petition. urging the court to quash the eviction order.

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