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G. Jayasri v/s The State, Rep. By the Principal Secretary to the Government, Municipal Administration & Water Supply Dept., Chennai & Others

    Writ Appeal No. 248 of 2020

    Decided On, 03 August 2020

    At, High Court of Judicature at Madras


    For the Appellant: G. Jayasri, Party-in-person. For the Respondents: R1, R4 & R5, Kamalesh Kannan, Government Advocate, R3, N. Ganesan, Advocate.

Judgment Text

(Prayer: Writ Appeal is filed under Clause 15 of Letters Patent, to set aside the order dated 15.11.2019 made in W.P.No.31199 of 2019.)

Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, J.

1. The Appellant is the unsuccessful petitioner in the writ petition. The Appellant resides in an apartment complex, Diamond Complex, consisting of eight apartments. Her case is that she was the person in-charge of general maintenance during the period, January to December 2019. On account of acute water scarcity, it was decided to drill a bore well in the premises of the Diamond Complex. The husband of the ninth Respondent, who is a plumber, was chosen to carry out the task but the Appellant did not accept this decision because there were two existing bore wells and, therefore, there was no space to drill one more bore well. However, without informing the Appellant, Respondents 6 to 12 proceeded with the drilling of a new bore well. The said bore well did not yield any water. Therefore, on 27.07.2019, the Respondents took steps to drill another bore well at the main entrance gate passage. Neither of the bore wells yielded any water. Instead of taking necessary action to properly close the bore wells, the mouths of the two bore wells were covered with plywood and waste stones were laid over it.

2. The Appellant states that these two unyielding bore wells constitute a great safety threat to the families of the apartment owners, especially the children. The Respondents 1 to 5 are duty bound to ensure that unyielding bore wells are closed properly so as to keep the occupants and users of the apartment complex safe. The writ petition was filed in these facts and circumstances.

3. By order dated 15.11.2019, the writ petition was dismissed largely on the basis of the report submitted by the Commissioner, Greater Chennai Corporation, pursuant to a field inspection carried out along with the Regional Deputy Commissioner. As per the report of the Commissioner, the two bore wells had been fully plastered after being filled with sand. In the impugned order, the Writ Court relied on the report of the Commissioner and also took into account the fact that the Appellant/Petitioner did not have a cordial relationship with the other occupants and had abused the judicial machinery in order to settle scores with such occupants. Therefore, the writ petition was dismissed with costs of Rs.25,000/-.

4. We heard the Appellant as a party-in-person. The Appellant reiterated the facts set out in the affidavit in support of the writ petition and outlined briefly in the preceding paragraphs. She also pointed out that the Hon’ble Supreme Court had issued guidelines in W.P. (C) No.36 of 2009 with regard to the measures that should be taken for the prevention of fatal accidents, especially to small children, which could be occasioned by falling into abandoned bore wells and tube wells. In specific, the said guidelines provide that abandoned bore wells should be filled with clay/sand/boulders/pebbles/drill cuttings from the bottom all the way up to the ground level. Under the said guidelines, the authorities concerned were directed to collect information on the status of bore wells / tube wells and ensure that they are properly filled-up up to the ground level. In addition, it was directed that a certificate should be obtained from the authorities that the abandoned bore well had been properly filled up to the ground level.

5. The Appellant/party-in-person submitted that these guidelines had not been followed in this case. She also referred to several photographs from the typed set of papers so as to establish that the bore wells were not closed properly.

6. We considered the submissions of the Appellant/party-in-person and examined the records. We find that the Commissioner of the Corporation of Chennai had filed a report in November 2019 stating that a field inspection was carried out on 07.11.2019 pursuant to the directions of this Court. On the said date, the Commissioner along with the Regional Deputy Commissioner visited the premises and found that the two bore wells had been fully filled with sand. Under the instructions of and subject to the supervision of the Commissioner, the Corporation had concreted the sand filled bore wells with blue-metal, sand and cement and closed the same with a Kaddapah slab. The Writ Court dismissed the writ petition by relying upon the said report.

7. On examining the impugned order in the writ petition and the report relied upon, we find that the property is a private and not public property. Although the typed set contains a letter dated 20.06.2019 to the Commissioner, Corporation of Chennai, there is no acknowledgment. In the report, the Commissioner stated that the Appellant had not taken up the matter with the Corporation. The Corporation has further stated that the bore holes were concreted with blue metal, sand and cement. In these circumstances, the conclusion in the impugned order that the bore wells had been duly closed does not warrant interference as there is no infirmity therein.

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However, we note that the Writ Court had imposed costs of Rs.25,000/-. Keeping in mind the fact that the subject matter of the writ petition was the closure of bore wells for the purpose of ensuring the safety of the occupants of the Diamond Complex, especially children, and bearing in mind the overall facts and circumstances, we are of the view that the imposition of costs is liable to be set aside. 8. Accordingly, the appeal is disposed of by confirming the order of the Writ Court except to the extent of setting aside the costs imposed. No costs.