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Fresh PIL in Madras HC against conversion of Amma's House into Public Memorial

Published on 06 Jan 2018 by Team

Image courtesy-Barandbench

The Madras High Court on Friday heard yet another challenge to the state government’s plans to convert late Chief Minister, J Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence, Veda Nilayam into a public memorial.

The First Bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Abdul Quddhose heard submissions made in a PIL moved by social activist, Traffic Ramaswamy.

The main thrust of the challenge lies in the contention that public funds ought not to be used to build a public memorial for the former Chief Minister, given that she was convicted for possession of disproportionate assets by the Supreme Court.

The Bench, however, expressed its doubts as to whether the petition could amount to one being in public interest at all.

While observing that PILs should only be filed when there is a public interest involved, the Chief Justice questioned whether the Court should be called to intervene and supervise government policy over every memorial that it chooses to construct.

The petitioner, however, stood by his stance that utilising public funds for building a memorial for a convict would affect public interest. Curiously, it was also briefly mentioned in the course of other arguments, that natural justice would be affected if the government were allowed to move ahead with its plans.

As for now, the Court has not passed any directions in the matter, save for adjourning the case for a fortnight.

The incumbent Chief Minister, E Palaniswamy, had declared that Veda Nilayam, the erstwhile residence of Jayalalithaa at Poes Garden in Chennai would be converted into a public memorial through an announcement made in the leading dailies in August 2017.

A petition moved by one, Thangavelu against this decision, on grounds similar to those presented by Ramaswamy, is still pending before the Court. The conversion was challenged by Thangavelu on the ground that conferring the status of public memorial on Jayalithaa’s former residence is a wrong precedent and a waste of public money.

Jayalalithaa’s niece J Deepa had also moved the Court in October last year, against the conversion, contending that the residence naturally passed on herself and her brother, being the legal heirs. She had thus disputed the authority of the Government in converting the property. The Court had ultimately directed the Government to consider Deepa’s representations within a period of four months.

In December last year, the Government had commenced the process of acquiring the residential building for the purpose of conversion. This is turn prompted Ramaswamy to approach the Court by way of the instant petition.


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