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M. Punitharani v/s The Managing Director, T.N. Slum Clearance Board, Chennai & Others

    WP.No. 2357 of 2011 & M.P.No. 1 of 2011

    Decided On, 26 October 2022

    At, High Court of Judicature at Madras

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE N. SATHISH KUMAR

    For the Petitioner: M. Aswin for Dr. G. Krishnamurthy, Advocates. For the Respondents: R1 & R2, K. Tippu Sultan, Government Advocate for M. Babu Muthu Meeran, SC, R3, Mohammed Saleem, SC.



Judgment Text

(Prayer: Writ Petition filed, under the Article 226 of Constitution of India, to issue Writ of Certiorari to call for the records in Na.Ka.No.312/A/2010 A.AA.10 dated 29.12.2010 on the file of second respondent and to quash the same.)

This Writ Petition has been filed challenging the impugned Order of the second respondent in Na.Ka.No.312/A/2010 A.AA.10 dated 29.12.2010 demanding eviction of the petitioner from the Slum Clearance Board.

2. It is the case of the petitioner that by an Order dated 10.09.2008, the petitioner was allotted 200 tenements to give Cable S.T.V. Service Communication at Chennai Slum Clearance Board Tenements from Flat Nos.3301 to 3500 on payment of Rs.48,000/- for the period of one year from 01.09.2008 to 31.08.2009 by an Order dated 10.09.2008. It is the further case of the petitioner that the respondent has not allotted tenements for occupation in all 200 tenements and only single line free electricity connection at Chemmancheri Slum Clearance Board housing scheme, that too due to power cut only 25% of the day is enjoying with electricity power supply has been given to the tenements. When the matter stood thus, the second respondent issued the notice dated 14.12.2010 in Form A which is being issued to the occupants of the Tamilnadu Slum Clearance Board tenements. Subsequent to the above notice, the respondent issued eviction Order in Form B which is also meant for Tamilnadu Slum Clearance Board tenements. Hence, the impugned order is challenged on the ground that it is against the fundamental rights of the petitioner and the respondent ought to have renewed the licence considering that the tenants are able to enjoy the cable TV on receipt of Electricity supply by the Government Order.

3. The respondents 2 to 4 filed a counter stating that the Slum Clearance Board has spent several lakhs of rupees in constructing tenements for the benefits of poor people at very meagre rent and in addition all the basic amenities including maintenance has been provided by the Slum Clearance Board. Therefore, any private individual without permission giving cable connection to the tenements thereby making profit out of it cannot be acceptable by the Board Rules. As per Section 4B of Cable Television Network Act, 1995, the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board can collect the amount from the cable operators as service charges and the said amount would be utilised for carrying out the repair work which has been caused by the cable TV operators while laying out the cable in the tenements. The petitioner has paid a sum of Rs.48,000/- as a one year lease amount vide receipt No.5876 dated 28.04.2008. Now the petitioner has filed the present Writ Petition as if Slum Clearance Board does not have any power to collect rent from the petitioner. As per Rule 4B of Cable Television Network Act 1995 enables the Tamilnadu Slum Clearance Board to collect some amount from the cable operators as service charge while laying out the cables at the tenements. The Tamilnadu Slum Clearance Board has entered into an agreement with Tamilnadu Arasu Cable Television and thereby appointing of local cable operators for the Slum Clearance Board tenements is vested with the Tamilnadu Arasu Cable Television. Accordingly, the Tamilnadu Arasu Cable Television will inform the Slum Clearance Board that who are all local cable TV operators permitted to give cable TV connection to the Slum Clearance Board tenements and thereby 50% of the income derived from it would be given to the Tamilnadu Slum Clearance Board and the same has come into force since 21.03.2016. Hence, the petitioner can approach the Tamilnadu Arasu Cable Television for license to give connection to the Tamilnadu Slum Clearance Board tenements.

4. The learned counsel appearing for the petitioner would submit that as far as regulation of Cable TV is concerned, the registering authority is only the Post Master of the Head Post Office. Any renewal or grant of license has to be given only by the registering authority. The Slum Clearance Authority has no authority to fix any rent in the name of maintenance as well as connection charges. Merely because the petitioner has paid a sum of Rs.48,000/- as lease amount for one year period and the same cannot be insisted by the respondents 2 to 4 for subsequent years. Hence, the impugned notice issued for eviction is bad in law and is liable to be set aside.

5. It is his further contention that the petitioner has been allotted 200 tenements for giving cable TV connection, but actually there are no occupants for the entire tenements. Therefore, the Slum Clearance Board is entitled to claim only service charges on actual basis and not for entire 200 tenements and hence, seeks to quash the entire proceedings.

6. Whereas, Mr.Tippu Sultan appearing for Mr.Babu Muthu Meeran for the respondents 2 to 4 submitted that the petitioner was granted 200 tenements at the rate of Rs.10/- per connection and service charges Rs.10/- per connection and totally Rs.48,000/- has been fixed for 200 tenements. Since the entire tenements belong to public authority, namely Slum Clearance Board, they are entitled to collect services charges or maintenance charges for repairing the tenements which caused due to the laying of any cable etc. It is his further contention that the petitioner now cannot contend that they can effect connection free of cost to the tenements. The Slum Clearance Board has control over the tenements and they have every right to collect charges. The petitioner has already paid Rs.48,000/- while effecting connections for 200 tenements. Having paid that amount now he cannot challenge the impugned notice.

7. I have perused the entire materials. The first contention of the petitioner is that the Slum Clearance Board has no authority to collect any amount for giving Cable TV connections in the tenements. It is relevant to note as per the Rule 4B of Cable Television Networks [Regulation] Act, 1995, license or renewal of license has to be granted by the registering authority. As per Rule 2[e] of the Cable Television Networks Rules 1994, registering authority means in relation to a cable operator registered under Rule 5, the Head Post Master of a Head Post Office of the area within whose territorial jurisdiction the office of cable operator is situated. Rule 5 deals with issuance of license or renewal of license. The above Rules also makes it clear that for a license or renewal of license to operate the cable TV, the registering authority is the head Post Master. There is no quarrel over this.

8. Now the issue involved in this Writ Petition is whether Tamilnadu Slum Clearance has authority to issue impugned notice and collect any amount towards such connections. It is relevant to note that the Slum Clearance tenements are under the control of Tamilnadu Clearance Board. Only the Board has control over the tenements right from the inception, allotment, repairs, paintings, etc. Therefore, the Slum Clearance Board has control over the tenements sublet by them. It is also relevant to note Section 4 [B] of the Cable Television Networks [Regulation] Act, 1995, which reads as follows :

4B. Right of way for cable operators and permission by public authority.—

(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, any cable operator entitled for providing cable services may, from time to time, lay and establish cables and erect posts under, over, along, across, in or upon any immovable property vested in or under the control or management of a public authority.

(2) Any public authority under whose control or management any immovable property is vested may, on receipt of a request from a cable operator permit the cable operator to do all or any of the following acts, namely:— (a) to place and maintain underground cables or posts; and (b) to enter on the property, from time to time, in order to place, examine, repair, alter or remove such cables or posts.

(3) The facility of right of way under this section for laying underground cables, and erecting posts, shall be available to all cable operators subject to the obligation of reinstatement or restoration of the property or payment of reinstatement or restoration charges in respect thereof at the option of the public authority.

(4) When a public authority in public interest considers it necessary and expedient that the underground cable or post placed by any cable operator under the provisions of this section should be removed or shifted or its position altered, it may require the cable operator to remove it or shift it or alter its position, as the case may be, at its own cost in the time frame indicated by the public authority.

(5) The Central Government may lay down appropriate guidelines to enable the State Governments to put in place an appropriate mechanism for speedy clearance of requests from cable operators for laying cables or erecting posts on any property vested in, or under the control or management of, any public authority and for settlement of disputes, including refusal of permission by the public authority.

(6) Any permission granted by a public authority under this section may be given subject to such reasonable conditions as that public authority thinks fit to impose as to the payment of any expenses, or time or mode of execution of any work, or as to any other matter connected with or related to any work undertaken by the cable operator in exercise of those rights.

(7) Nothing in this section shall confer any right upon any cable operator other than that of user for the purpose only of laying underground cable or erecting posts or maintaining them.]

9. Admittedly the property belongs to the Slum Clearance Board. It is public authority and therefore, any cable passing through the tenements, the authority has got every power to regulate the same. That apart, to operate the Cable Television Network, grant of license or renewal license to be made by the registering authority. According to the Rule, it is the Head Post Master. Grant of license or renewal of license is only in order to run the cable television and not to regulate the Cables passing through the immovable property belonging to the public authorities. Therefore, for laying any Cable or erecting posts for such cable TV inside the public place, permission from the public authority is mandatory as per Section 4B of the Cable Television Networks [Regulation] Act, 1995. Subsection 6 of the Act makes it very clear that any permission granted by the public authority under this section may be given subject to reasonable conditions as the public authority thinks fit to impose as to the payment of any expenses or time or mode of execution of any work, or as to any other matter connected with or related to any work undertaken by the cable operator in exercise of those rights. The above provision makes it clear that while granting permission in the public premises, the public authority has the power to collect any payment towards expenses like maintenance etc. Therefore, the contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner that the Slum Clearance Board has no power to collect any maintenance charges such as fixing of rent, cannot be countenanced. Though the impugned notice proceeds as if the rent has been fixed, mere nomenclature Order will not make any difference. Sub Clause 6 of Section 4B permit the public authorities to collect any expenses.

10. It is to be noted that the petitioner has been granted permission to give cable connection to a particular number of tenements from House No.3501 to 3700. The petitioner has been given permission in respect of 200 tenements. Like the petitioner, various other persons also have been given permission for such 200 connections in other areas. This has been done only in order to avoid interference by the other cable operators to encroach upon the business of some other license. Therefore, such a regulation of power is reasonable and it does not require any interference. The petitioner while entering into an agreement to give cable TV connection to the tenements has agreed to pay a sum of Rs.48,000/- per year and having accep

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ted the above condition, now they cannot turn around and contend that the authorities have no power to collect such expenses. Therefore, the contention of the petitioner that the public authority has no power to collect the amount cannot be sustained in the eye of law. 11. Now, the only contention of the petitioner at this stage is that though he has been given permission to give connection to 200 houses actually, the connection has been provided only for less than 100 houses. Therefore, it is his contention that the respondents cannot insist for charges levied by them for the entire tenements. At the most, they are entitled to collect charges based on the actual connections given in the tenements. The submissions of the learned counsel in this regard cannot be said to be unreasonable. Merely because, the petitioner has been granted permission for 200 tenements, when actually entire connections has not been given, it is unfair on the part of the authorities to insist charges for the entire 200 tenements. In such view of the matter, the respondents are directed to collect the rent fixed for each connection on the basis of the actual connections given by the petitioner in the area allotted by them. 12. With the above observations, this Writ Petition is dismissed. Consequently, connected miscellaneous petition is closed. No costs.
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