Panchayats can auction fishing rights for more revenue: HC

Madurai Feb 22 (PTI) The Madras High Court bench heretoday ruled that panchayats have powers to auction the fishingrights of the tanks in their control if they would fetch moreincome, rather than extend a lease by accepting 15 per centincreased amount from the bidder as per the Government Order.

Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice R Subbiah gavethe order while dismissing an appeal filed by the lessee SKarunanidhi against the order of the single judge, who upheldthe decision of the Tiruverumbur Panchayat to auction thefishing rights of Sengulam tank.

The court said the clause in the GO which said that anylessee intending to extend their lease period upto three yearswould have to pay 15 per cent lease amount to the concernedpanchayat was only an "enabling provision".

"It does not prevent the panchayat from holding thepublic auction if it comes to the conclusion that in the eventof a public auction it would fetch more revenue.

"The appellant cannot seek for extension of lease as amatter of right", the court said.

Stating that the government pleader had informed thatthe panchayat was willing to extend the lease in favour of theappellant if he paid Rs 1.5 lakh, the judges said as theappellant was willing to pay only Rs 50,000, his lease couldnot be extended.

The appellant submitted that he secured fishing rightsfor 2009-10, which ended on July 31, 2010. He had submittedthat he had invested on various fishing equipments, expectingthe lease would be extended. But the panchayat had given anotice for public auction, he said.

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