Madras HC restrains registration of mortgage deed in marshland

[] The Madras HC has restrained the registration of any mortgage deed involving a portion of a marshland in Pallikaranai, by a private IT company, following allegations that the land was illegally assigned

The Madras High Court, on October 1, 2018, restrained the registration department from registering any mortgage deed, involving a portion of a marshland in Chennai by a private IT company, as a security for a Rs 1,350-crore loan it proposed to obtain. A division bench, comprising justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad, passed the interim order on a petition by a social activist, seeking a CBI probe into alleged illegal assignment of about 20 acres of Pallikaranai marshland, to IG 3 Info Limited. It also directed officials not to grant lease of the land to the company.

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Taking a serious view of the petitioner’s submission that he faced threats for moving the court on the issue, the bench issued notices to the authorities concerned and posted the matter for further hearing to October 23, 2018. Petitioner M Sentil Kumar of Kalamin Agni Sirahugal Trust submitted that the entire marshland had been alienated by the Chennai Corporation to the Forest Department in 2013. Subsequently, a portion of the marshland was encroached upon by people below poverty line, living here for over 20 years.

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While attempts were being made to evict them, a media report about alleged attempts made by IG 3 Info Limited, to mortgage 20 acres of the marshland, came as a shock to the residents of the area, the petitioner said. An enquiry revealed that land in about 35 survey numbers of the marshland had been illegally assigned to the company, which had, on April 16, submitted a mortgage deed with the Saidapet sub-registrar office, for registration in favour of Axis Trustee Service Limited as a security for the Rs 1,350-crore loan, he claimed.

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He further alleged that on a representation by the company, the Inspector General of Registration had fixed the guideline value for the survey numbers at Rs 3,015 per sq ft. The act of the official was illegal, as fixation of guideline value can be done only by a committee headed by the inspector general, the petitioner said. He alleged that the company had obtained the patta (land ownership document) for the portion of the marshland, in collusion with the forest and revenue authorities.

The marshland falls close to the I-T corridor in the city. In 2015, the high court had expressed shock at the shrinking of Pallikaranai marshland and directed the state government to furnish details on encroachment, dumping and burning of garbage and measures for its protection.

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Category: Lifestyle

Debora Berti

Università degli Studi di Firenze, IT

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