Govt. ‘actively considering’ suggestion to drop plan to acquire Jayalalithaa’s house

The State Government on Wednesday told the Madras High Court that it was “actively considering” a suggestion made by the court on May 27 to not waste public money on acquiring Veda Nilayam, the residence of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa at Poes Garden, Chennai, along with the movable properties and converting it into a memorial.

Appearing before Justice N. Anand Venkatesh, Advocate General Vijay Narayan said a Division Bench of Justices N. Kirubakaran and Abdul Quddhose had made three suggestions to the court while declaring Jayalalithaa’s niece J. Deepa and nephew J. Deepak as her legal heirs. All those suggestions were under active consideration.

The first suggestion was to drop the move to acquire the properties. Second, the bungalow could be acquired and used as the official residence of the Chief Minister. Third, the government could consider using a part of the property spread over 10 grounds as a memorial and the rest as the official residence, the Bench had said.

“The government is considering the suggestions. Your Lordship may record my statement,” the A-G said.

He opposed a writ petition filed by Poes Garden Kasthuri Estate House Owners Association (PGKEHOA) challenging the acquisition proceedings on many grounds, including possible disturbance to residents due to the proposed memorial.

Petitioner’s counsel L. Maithili contended that the proceedings were being conducted in an undue haste without considering suggestions made by the Division Bench. However, the judge dismissed the writ petition after recording the submissions made by the A-G that the court’s suggestions and petitioner association’s objections would be considered.

Denying the allegation of undue haste, the A-G said the acquisition proceedings under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013 began as early as October 4, 2017.

It had been proceeding steadily after complying with norms such as conduct of social impact assessment and so on.

He, however, agreed that many people might throng Poes Garden to visit Jayalalithaa’s residence, like how they visit the Lincoln Memorial and other such places. “There may be visitors but that is not enough to challenge acquisition proceedings. After all, when the former Chief Minister was alive, huge crowds had been coming there for last 25 to 30 years,” he said.

“Only the land and building can be acquired under the 2013 Act, so the Ordinance was passed,” he added.

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