(Revision Petitions filed against the judgment dated 29.9.2003 passed in C.M.A.Nos.45,48 and 49 of 2002 on the file of the Addl.Sub Judge, Chengalpattu, confirming the order dated 18.6.2002 passed in I.A.Nos.125,131 and 133 of 2002, in O.S.Nos.34,37 and 38 of 2002 on the file of the District Munsif cum Judicial Magistrate, Thirukalukundram, and also against the judgment dated 29.9.2003 passed in C.M.A.Nos.47 and 46 of 2002, on the file of the Addl.Sub Judge, Chengalpattu, confirming the order dated 18.6.2002 passed in I.A.Nos.129 and 127 of 2002 in O.S.Nos.36 and 35 of 2002 on the file of the District Munsif cum Judicial Magistrate, Thirukalukumdram.)
The plaintiffs in O.S.Nos.34 to 38 of 2002 are the revision petitioners herein, challenging the common order passed by the Addl.Sub Judge, Chengalpattu in C.M.A.Nos.45 to 49 of 2002 dismissing the appeals filed against the dismissal of interim injunction Applications filed by them in the above suits.
2. In all the appeals and the suits the plaintiff is one and the same Company and the prayer in the suits and the prayer in the Interlocutory Applications are one and the same, namely, restraining the defendants/respondents from drawing the sea water flows through Buckingham Canal which runs through and adjacent to the suit property. A common order has also been passed by the lower appellate authority. Therefore a common order is passed in all the Civil Revision Petitions.
3. The case of the revision petitioner is that they are manufacturing salt and operating integrated salt works. The suit property is situated in Kancheepuram District and the Government has leased out the suit property in favour of plaintiffs for a period of 20 years. The plaintiffs paid substantial amount as caution deposit and the Government has delivered the suit property under land delivery receipt. The plaintiffs have to pay Rs.68/- per acre as lease amount per annum and Rs.1/- per ton towards royalty.
4. The office of the Deputy Superintendent of Salt, Kelambakkam sent communication/work order dated 1.3.2002 to the plaintiffs in which work of augmentation of Brine supply for salt manufacture cutting open Edaiyur Sea Bar Mouth and Maintenance of Aquedect construction was entrusted to the plaintiffs within the campus of Atomic Energy Project, Kalpakkam.
5. The plaintiffs submitted that for their works the main material is sea-water. The sea-water enters Buckingham Canal through Edaiyur Bar mouth inside Madras Atomic Power Station and this area is under the control of IGCAR. The area leased out to the plaintiffs run up to sea. Sea Bar is non-perennial in nature. Due to sand deposition this bar gets closed in January every year and sea water entry into Buckingham Canal is stopped. The plaintiffs engaged porclain and Doser and remove the sand deposits and makes the bar function so as to enable the water to enter the Buckingham Canal at a huge cost. From the canal the plaintiffs pump the water into plaintiffs' works for manufacturing salt and for operating integrated salt works. Only the plaintiffs alone have the right to draw the sea water from the Buckingham canal through which the sea water flows and without the permission of the Government no one can draw see water from the Buckingham Canal.
6. While so, the respondents herein who have no right whatsoever and without getting permission from the Government have got subsidiar canal and trying to tap the sea water from the canal to have illegal gain for which they are not entitled to do so. If the respondents herein are allowed to tap the sea water, the plaintiffs cannot get sufficient sea water for their works and the quantity and quality of the salt would be reduced considerably resulting huge loss and hardship to the plaintiffs.
7. Therefore the plaintiffs filed the above suits for permanent injunction against the defendants in the respective suits and they also filed Applications for interim injunction.
8. The trial court dismissed all the interim injunction Applications which were confirmed by the lower appellate courts. Challenging the order of the lower appellate court confirming the order of the trial court, the above revision petitions have been filed.
9. Heard the learned counsel for the revision petitioner and the learned counsel for 3rd respondent in C.R.P.Nos.712 and 713 of 2004. For other respondents notices have been sent in all C.R.Ps., i.e., C.R.P.Nos.712 to 714 of 2005 and C.R.P.Nos.1028 and 1029 of 2005.
10. The learned counsel for the revision petitioner submitted that when the Government leased the suit property in favour of the petitioner/plaintiff for the purpose of manufacturing salt, they are alone entitled to take the sea water running through Buckingham Canal for this purpose. He further submitted that the respondents herein who have no permission from the Government, should not be allowed to draw the sea water from the Canal. He found fault with the approach of both the courts below in declining to grant an order of injunction on the sole ground that the lease agreement has not specifically prohibited any person other than the petitioner herein from drawing the sea water course.
11. Per contra, the learned counsel for the respondents submitted that the revision petitioner is not using the lands for the purpose of salt manufacturing but using the same for prawn culture thereby violating the lease conditions. He further submitted that no permission is necessary for drawing sea water. For this purpose she referred to and relied on a letter dated 19.10.92, marked as an Ex.R1. As rightly pointed out by the learned counsel for the revision petitioner both the courts below declined to grant an order of injunction on the sole ground that Ex.A1 lease agreement does not show that other than the revision petitioner nobody is entitled to take water and only if such condition was incorporated in the agreement the plaintiffs would have prima facie case for the grant of interim injunction.
12. This approach of the trial court as well as the appellate court is not proper in dealing with an Application for interim injunction. When the plaintiffs have prima facie proved their contention by filing the lease agreement entered into with the Government, the land delivery receipt issued by Taluk Office, the receipts and chalans for payment of money by the plaintiffs, the work order dated 1.3.2002 issued to them by the Deputy Superintendent of Salt, and the entry permit given to the plaintiffs, the courts below ought to have exercised their discretion in favour of the plaintiffs by granting the interim order of injunction.
13. The respondents herein on the other hand have filed xerox copies of some orders issued by the authorities to show that permission is not necessary for any one to draw the sea water. But the document on which much reliance was placed by the learned counsel for the respondents is the letter dated 19.10.92 issued by the Commissioner for Fisheries Department. This letter was written to an officer at Pattukottai informing that no permission is required for drawing sea water. But this letter does not relate to the suit schedule property and also the right of the plaintiffs based on the lease agreement for drawing sea water flowing through Buckingham Canal. It is also not in dispute that
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the respondents have no permission from the authorities concerned for drawing sea water. 14. In such circumstances, until the main issue is resolved by proper adjudication by the trial court in the pending suit, balance of convenience requires that the respondents ought to be restrained from drawing the sea water flows through Buckingham Canal which runs through and adjacent to the suit property. 15. In the result, all the Civil Revision Petitions are allowed. No costs. The connected C.M.Ps., are closed. 16. However, considering the issue involved in the suits, the trial court is directed to dispose of the suits on merits, without being influenced by any of the observations made by me in this order, within a period of 6 months from the date of receipt of the copy of this order.