The Tamil Nadu government on Saturday deposited Rs 67.9 crore in the city Civil Court for acquiring late Chief Minister J Jayalalitha’s Poes Garden residence, Veda Nilayam, as part of its efforts to convert it into a memorial.
Of the sum, Rs 36.9 crore would be paid towards IT and wealth tax arrears which Jayalalithaa had reportedly owed the Income Tax department, thus freeing it of any encumbrances, official sources said.
Jayalalithaa’s niece and nephew J Deepa and J Deepak, who have staked claim to the property, said they opposed the government move to take over their aunt’s bungalow and convert it into a memorial.
The ruling AIADMK said the party had a “responsibility and right” to convert the sprawling 0.55 acre property into a memorial, in line with Chief Minister K Palaniswami’s 2017 announcement made after he assumed office.
“We have deposited Rs 68 crore in the City Civil Court…it is our responsibility and right to make her house a memorial,” senior AIADMK leader and Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar told reporters here.
Converting the house into a memorial was the ‘wholehearted desire’ of the people of Tamil Nadu and AIADMK party workers, he added. Depositing Rs 67.9 crore towards compensation in a city court will pave the way for the state government to take possession of the former AIADMK supremo’s residence and
convert it into a memorial.
Opposing the government’s decision, Deepa and Deepak said they will move the court against it.”We will go on an appeal before the court challenging the state government. When the court has declared us as legal heirs, the decision to deposit compensation in court or convert our aunt’s property into a memorial is wrong,” Deepa told reporters here in response to the development. Her brother too was present.
They have been objecting to the government’s decision to convert Veda Nilayam into a residence since 2017, she said, adding, the attempt to take over Jayalalitha’s property was tantamount to “grabbing” the property from them.
Converting Jayalalithaa’s residence into a memorial will serve no purpose, Deepa said, adding, “it was the court that had announced the siblings as legal heirs and not the government.”
“Had the government considered our case, it would have involved us in discussions,” Deepa said. She further claimed that much of the prevailing confusion over several issues was because her aunt did not leave behind her will.
“She couldn’t leave behind a will for various reasons…maybe because of the cases foisted against her, the prevailing political situation then and also she never knew that she would die,” Deepa said.
The government’s move on the former AIADMK supremo’s property follows the Madras High Court in May, declaring Deepa and Deepak as Class II legal heirs entitled to inherit all properties left behind by the late leader.
On Wednesday, the land acquisition award pronounced by S Lakshmi, Land Acquisition Officer (LAO)/Revenue Divisional Officer, South Chennai, said Veda Nilayam has to be acquired by the government for the purpose of converting it into a memorial under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act,
During enquiry, K Madhavan, Deepa’s husband, Deepak’s counsel S L Sudarsanam and Ajay Robin Singh, Deputy Commissioner of I-T appeared before the LAO, the order stated.
The objections raised by the legal heirs were routine and the acquisition was for the conversion of Veda Nilayam to a memorial, the officer observed.
This (move) would serve a public purpose and it also is a policy decision of the government portraying the glory of an iconic leader, the order said, adding the said Rs 67.9 crore should be deposited in the city civil court account and legal heirs can approach the court for compensation.
The conversion of Veda Nilayam into a memorial was one of the conditions laid down for the merger of the two AIADMK factions, each led by then rebel leader and now deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam and Palaniswami, respectively. Panneerselvam is now AIADMK Coordinator.
Besides this, a large memorial is coming up for Jayalalithaa at the Marina, where she was laid to rest after her death on December 5, 2016.
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