India

Murasoli panchami land issue: govt., complainant seek more time

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes on Tuesday held the first hearing of a case alleging that Murasoli Trust was situated on a panchami land.

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, NCSC vice-chairman L. Murugan said both the complainant and the State government had produced some documents and sought more time. The case had been adjourned to the first week of January, he said.

The complainant, R. Srinivasan, a BJP functionary, and Murasoli Trust’s trustee R.S. Bharathi appeared before the Commission to make their respective contentions.

Chief Secretary K. Shanmugam, Revenue Secretary Atulya Misra, Adi Dravida and Tribal Welfare Department secretary Otem Dai and Chennai Collector R. Seethalakshmi represented the State government.

The media was not allowed to cover the hearing of the case at the NCSC’s State Office in Shastri Bhavan on Haddows Road.

During an interaction with reporters, Mr. Srinivasan said some documents were submitted on their behalf but did not elaborate further. “When it comes to allegations, those in public life should show documents. It applies to BJP also. They [against whom the allegation is] cannot say you show documents,” he said.

Mr. Bharathi said the complainant could not even submit documents to support his claim. The DMK MP said that he asked the vice-chairman if he would probe every complaint filed before him. “I asked whether he would probe if I say the PM’s residence or the CM’s residence or the BJP’s State head office is on panchami land. He did not have an answer," Mr. Bharathi said.

The DMK organisation secretary also claimed to have stated to the Commission that it did not have the authority to hear the case, since it was a ‘quasi judicial body’. “Moreover, according to the Indian Evidence Act, the burden of proof lies with the complainant. So, the burden is on them,” he contended.

In his statement of objections, filed on behalf of the Murasoli Trust (which was released to the media by the DMK), Mr. Bharathi submitted that the complaint cannot be entertained by the Commission as it lacked the jurisdiction.

He argued that the issue raised in the complaint was one of title over a property, which was beyond the jurisdiction of the Commission, which had no adjudicatory powers. The complainant was from the BJP and was hence politically motivated, he alleged.

The complaint did not contain the material facts required as per the Rules of Procedure of the NCSC, and hence, cannot be entertained by the Commission, he further argued.