HC orders eviction of encroachers close to Buckingham Canal

The Madras High Court on Tuesday dismissed a review petition filed by 90 residents of Elango Street at Govindasamy Nagar in Raja Annamalaipuram against a judicial order passed on February 19 last year to evict all of them from pucca houses constructed close to the Buckingham Canal and resettle them in Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board tenements.

Justices M. Venugopal and S. Vaidyanathan refused to review their order on the ground that the petitioners had not highlighted any error apparent on the face of the record necessitating the court to review its orders. They also said, the court could not be forced to rehear the matter de novo through a review petition.

“There is no second opinion of a prime fact that the power of review is a creation of a statute. A mere fact that divergent/different views on the same subject are quite plausible/possible, it is not a ground to review the earlier order passed by a court of law. To put it precisely, the power of review is not to be exercised for substituting the earlier views arrived at by the court.

“An erroneous decision can be subject to an appeal to a higher forum but a review is impermissible on the ground that the court of law proceeded on a wrong proposition of law. Generally speaking, an error apparent on the face of record means that an error must be quite obvious and self evident and in short, it does not require an elaborate argument to be established,” the judges said.

The present case has a chequered history with the encroachers refusing to vacate despite court orders. Irked over such attitude, the judges in December last, said, the State government could withdraw ration cards, disconnect water and power supply and deny government benefits such as Pongal gifts to those who refuse to shift to TNSCB tenements.

“It is needless to mention that the respondents can take coercive steps such as disconnection of electricity, water supply and withdrawal of ration card to ensure that the encroachers do not get any benefits from January 2019. A fresh ration card can be issued to them only after their migration to the area identified by the Slum Clearance Board. “The Chief Secretary to Government is directed to circulate the above order to the respective departments, such as electricity, civil supplies and Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board for necessary action,” an interim order passed by the court in December read. Subsequently, the issue was taken up to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court in January this year permitted the petitioners to file a review petition before the High Court and ordered maintenance of status quo till the disposal of the review.

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