Terming it as a case of civil dispute and beyond the jurisdiction of the SIT, the Andhra Pradesh High Court on Wednesday stayed the probe into the Waltair Club land dispute in Vizag initiated by the State Government. After SIT chairman Vijaya Kumar asked the Waltair Club to submit the original document of the lease agreement with regard to 31 acres in its possession, the club management moved the High Court.
The club, located on 15 acres of prime land, was primarily leased, on perpetual basis, from one Chetty family in the year 1900. But according to the SIT officials, the authenticated copy of the lease agreement, though registered, is yet to be made available to it and it was not renewed after 1999. The Waltair Club argues that it got patta issued in 1951 under the Estate Abolition Act and by virtue of which they claim to be the owner of the land.
But according to the documents available with the SIT, they claim that even the copy supplied by the District Collector does not satisfy the registration criteria. Arguing for Waltair Club, senior advocate N. Ashwani Kumar and DV Sitharam Murthy contended that the prestigious institution was awarded with Settlement Patta way back in 1964 and findings were rendered by various revenue authorities that the Property of Waltair Club is purely private in nature and the government has no claim over it. Ashwani Kumar further argued that supplementing the submissions of DV Sitharam Murthy that the term of SIT had ended and it lacked jurisdiction to inquire into the properties of the club, entertaining any petition in a private civil dispute.
The advocates said the High Court is of the view that the whole process of SIT undertaking an inquiry is unlawful, without jurisdiction and without power and is liable to be interdicted by the High Court. Additional Advocate General P Sudhakar Reddy, appearing for SIT, argued that SIT was within its term and had power to examine any dispute. The court was however unsatisfied with the submissions made and said interest of Petitioner Waltair Club is to be protected, granting a stay on all further proceedings before SIT and further directed SIT not to interfere with the title, possession, occupation and affairs of the club.
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