Bid to seize railway property for payment default fails as train drives off

With the railways yet to pay compensation to four persons for their land acquired in 1999 even after court orders, the Kancheepuram judicial magistrate last month issued an order to attach an engine. Talks between railways and the landowners concerned also failed to resolve the issue.

india Updated: Dec 01, 2018 08:34 IST
M Manikandan
M Manikandan
Hindustan Times, Chennai
Kancheepuram,train engine,attachment bid
Court officials in Tamil Nadu today tried to seize a train engine over the railways’ long-pending default on land acquisition compensation (File Photo)(HT)

Court staff, escorted by police, reached Tamil Nadu’s Kancheepuram railway station on Friday morning with a property attachment order against the railways. The target was a railway engine.

With the railways yet to pay compensation to four persons for their land acquired in 1999 even after court orders, the Kancheepuram judicial magistrate last month issued an order to attach an engine. Talks between railways and the landowners concerned also failed to resolve the issue.

Staff of the Kancheepuram sub-court, accompanied by policemen, reached the station ahead of the arrival of the Puducherry-Egmore-Tirupati train. As the train came in by 8.15 am, a team of court officials and police approached the loco pilot and asked him to get down.

Passengers inside the train and the crowd outside were under the impression that the police had come to nab some accused. But, they were in for a shock when they realized that the officials intended to seize the train engine.

As arguments broke out between the court team and the station manager and other railway officials, the loco pilot took off the train towards Tirupati.

The sub-court had passed an order in 2017, directing the railways to pay compensation of Rs 1.30 crore to four persons whose 1.5 acres land was acquired for laying railway lines in 1999.

Taj Shah, one of the landowners, alleged that the Railway Board had not given them even a single rupee though they had surrendered the land 19 years ago.

“We four had jointly given 1.5 acre land to the railways. Initially, they assured to give Rs 25 per square feet. However, they failed to honour their word and in 2007, we moved the court seeking enhanced compensation,” Shah told Hindustan Times.

The court had increased the compensation from Rs.25 to Rs 88 per square feet. “As such, the railways had to pay us Rs.38 lakh. For over 10 years, they did not make any payment, forcing us to approach the court again in 2017,” he added.

Last month, the court ordered the Railway Board to pay the compensation with interest. As the district administration and revenue department had facilitated the land acquisition, the court had also ordered the attachment of the cars of the Kanchipuram district collector and district revenue officer, Shah said.

Mumtaz Begum, another of the affected landowners, said, “When we presented the order copy to the collector last month, he sought 15 days time to settle the issue amicably. But, the Railways did not respond.”

“I expected the train engine to be impounded. Had it been done, it would have helped us receive the compensation,” a disappointed Mumtaz Begum said.

Both the Kancheepuram station manager and the police accompanying the court staff refused to comment on the matter.

First Published: Nov 30, 2018 22:20 IST