HC directs CoP not to act on eviction of slum dwellers

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Chennai, Jun 27 (UNI) The Madras High Court today directed the Salem City Commissioner of Police (CoP) to ensure that no person was evicted from his/her dwelling without any legal order.

The First Bench comprising Chief Justice A K Ganguly and Justice F M Ibrahim Kalifulla, gave the direction, while disposing of a writ petition on a land grabbing issue filed by Civil Liberties general secretary G Haribabu against Tamil Nadu Agriculture Minister Veerapandi S Arumugam and 11 others.

The judges said proper steps should be taken to ensure that those evicted returned back to their original homes.

Submitting that 25 families had been living in the nearly 40,000 sq ft space behind the Ganesh Hall, near the Salem bus stand till January 20, 2008, petitioner Haribabu said the area, having a market value of Rs 25 crore had been donated to these families by land owner Srinivas Gupta, in 1959.

He said Salem District Council Vice-President Suresh, son of Minister Veerapandi Arumugam's brother, along with about 100 goons and party activists, threatened the families to vacate the area, saying that they had already acquired the site.

The people, who were forced to sign on blank stamp papers vacated the place after getting a meagre amount, he contended.

Taking a serious view about the allegations against the politician and the police, the bench said, ''We give liberty to the actual residents of the area to lodge specific complaint with the CoP, and he will make immediate inquiry into the matter and bring them back to their home.'' ''We are taking this view, considering the fact that the persons affected are slum dwellers and obviously poor people. The law enforcing authorities should ensure that weaker sections of the society are not subjected to harassment at the instance of those who have the strength of money and power behind them.'' The Bench also directed the CoP to Act within two weeks from the date of filing of any complaint by the original slum dwellers of that particular area.

UNI XR DS ROY SBC BD1940

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