Leader of the Opposition in Kerala Assembly VS Achuthanandan today filed a review petition in the state High Court seeking to recall its July 25 judgement on Munnar encroachments and hear the matter afresh. He contended that the verdict had been delivered by a bench headed by then Chief Justice Manjula Chellur after she was served transfer order.
Justice Chellur had held as illegal the action of Task Force which demolished several structures and resumed encroached government lands in 2007 in the hill resort town of Munnar by the previous Marxist government, while allowing petitions by some whose buildings and resorts were demolished.
In his review petition, Achuthanandan submitted that the judgement, delivered by the division bench headed by Chellur, was against the Constitution as she had already been transferred to the Calcutta High Court on July 22. In view of the notification of July 22, wherein Justice Chellur was trasnferred as the Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court, she had vacated her office as CJ of Kerala.
Hence, from July 22 onwards, Chellur has ceased to be Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court and she could not have pronounced the July 25 judgement, the petitioner contended. The pronouncement of the judgement was contrary to the spirit enshrined in Article 217(1)(c) of the Constitution.
The judgement was pronounced by the bench nearly seven months after conclusion of hearing, and three days before the judgement was pronounced, Chellur had been transferred. The drive to evict encroachers from government lands, especially in Munnar, was launched by Achuthanandan in May 2007, when he was the Chief Minsiter.
About 11,350 acres of encroached land was said to have been recovered and nearly 100 illegal buildings including high-end resorts razed to the ground within a month of drive by a three-member task force picked by Achuthanandan himself. Meanwhile, a bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice A M Shaffique admitted the review petition filed by the government and issued notices.
Government stated that there were some serious errors in the judgement and some important records provided by it were not relied upon by the court. However, the matter regarding Justice Chellur has not been raised in the government’s petition. Both the petitions have been posted after two weeks.
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