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Questioning State’s Commitment to Secularism: Tamil Nadu Govt’s Transference of Land to Muslim Associations

Tamil Nadu government's decision to transfer land free of cost to Muslim Associations questions the State's commitment to the principle of secularism as enshrined in the constitution

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Tamil Nadu, Mar 27, 2017: In September 1986, the Tamil Nadu State Government issued a Government Order transferring the public pond at Ullagaram village in Saidapet taluk free of cost on the condition that the mosque must be constructed within a period of two years, failing which the land would be taken back, as reported by The Hindu.

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This Government order caused the Federation of Chennai Suburban (South) Welfare Association to file a petition against the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to transfer, free of cost, 27 acres of “government pond” to Muslim associations for constructing a mosque rose the question. This 9-year old petition questions whether it is against the idea of secularism enshrined in the Indian Constitution, for the State to allot government land, one containing a water body, to a particular religious community to construct a place of worship.

The residents had challenged the government order on the ground that a State government cannot show favor to any religion or religious sect or denomination.

The land in question was currently under the possession of the local municipality, which was using it for a public purpose.

The residents moved to the Supreme Court, after failing before the Madras High Court, contending that the provisional transferring of the government pond in favor of the Muslim association for constructing a mosque violated the principle of secularism.

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A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar asked Tamil Nadu represented by advocate B. Balaji, after a detailed hearing, ordered the State to respond in a detailed affidavit within four weeks.

Noting that the 1986 order was provisional in nature and no final allocation has been made so far, the court had said it would examine the controversy behind the State government’s policy.

Prepared by Upama Bhattacharya. Twitter @Upama_myself

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SC Warned Amrapali Directors, says “Would Be Rendered Homeless If Tried To Play Smart”

The company Directors were asked to file affidavits within 15 days listing their movable and immovable properties.

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The apex court directed the company to furnish details on how it intends to arrange Rs 5,112 crore. Wikimedia Commons
The apex court directed the company to furnish details on how it intends to arrange Rs 5,112 crore. Wikimedia Commons

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Directors of the Amrapali Group to file details of all their movable and immovable assets along with valuation, and warned them that they would be rendered homeless if they tried “to play smart.”

A bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice U.U. Lalit clarified that all the properties of the directors would be sold if the company failed to raise Rs 5,112 crore required to complete its unfinished housing projects.

The apex court directed the company to furnish details on how it intends to arrange Rs 5,112 crore.

The company Directors were asked to file affidavits within 15 days listing their movable and immovable properties.

"Don't burden the home-buyers. Don't try to be smart. Tell your Directors also," the bench told the counsel. Wikimedia Commons
“Don’t burden the home-buyers. Don’t try to be smart. Tell your Directors also,” the bench told the counsel. Wikimedia Commons

When the company’s counsel Gaurav Bhatia told the court that home-buyers will also pay to help it raise Rs 5,112 crore, the court said: “The home-buyers will not pay a penny.”

“Don’t burden the home-buyers. Don’t try to be smart. Tell your Directors also,” the bench told the counsel.

“Tell us how you intend to arrange the money? Otherwise, you will be rendered homeless,” the bench said.

The court told the Directors that as they had made buyers wait for their homes, they will also search for their homes if they don’t submit the plan to arrange for money for the unfinished projects.

“Days are not away when you (Directors) will compel us to do this. If necessary, we will take every strip (of land) if you compel us. Next time, come (to the court) with the proposal,” the top court observed.

The real estate group is yet to hand over possession of flats to around 40,000 home-buyers. Wikimedia Commons
The real estate group is yet to hand over possession of flats to around 40,000 home-buyers. Wikimedia Commons

When the court was told that electricity supply at two projects of Amrapali — Zodiac and Silicon Valley — has been disconnected, it ordered the power companies concerned to restore electricity by Wednesday itself.

The court posted the matter for August 14.

On August 1, the court slammed the Amrapali Group for playing “fraud and dirty games” with it and ordered freezing of bank accounts of all the Directors of its 40 firms, besides attaching their personal properties.

Public sector undertaking National Building Construction Corporation was also directed to take over all 16 unfinished projects of the Amrapali Group.

The real estate group is yet to hand over possession of flats to around 40,000 home-buyers.

Also Read: Supreme Court seeks Centre’s response on plea challenging polygamy, nikah halala

The apex court has been hearing a batch of pleas filed by home-buyers who have sought quashing of the National Company Law Tribunal order to admit insolvency proceedings against the Amrapali Group.

The buyers belong to low and middle income groups and must be granted equal protection as other stakeholders, the financial and operational creditors, the home buyers’ plea said. (IANS)