Make it Chief Minister residence cum office, use a portion for a memorial: Madras high court on Jayalalithaa’s residence

CHENNAIWritten By: Sidharth MPUpdated: May 27, 2020, 02:05 PM IST

File photo of Jayalalithaa. Photograph:(PTI)

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The court added that a part of the property could be used to construct a memorial for the former four-time Chief Minister.

The Madras High Court has asked the Tamil Nadu government to reconsider its decision to convert late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s Poes garden Residence in Chennai into a memorial. Instead, the Court suggested that it be converted into the official residence-cum-office of the Chief Minister, as it has all the necessary facilities and infrastructure.  

The court added that a part of the property could be used to construct a memorial for the former four-time Chief Minister. The Court has also said that Deepa and Deepak Jayakumar,(Jayalalithaa’s niece and nephew) are Class-II legal heirs of Jayalalithaa.

Justices N. Kirubakaran and Abdul Quddhose had delivered their verdict via video-conferencing, on an application made by Jayalalithaa’s nephew Deepak and his sister J. Deepa to administer the properties left behind by their aunt. The Bench adjourned the case by eight weeks and has sought the response of the Tamil Nadu government.

The Court order stated that, If the Government intends to make the residence of the Late Chief Minister as a memorial, there will be no end to such proposals. Every government would like to make the residence of their leaders who were Chief Ministers as memorials and unnecessarily, the public money would be utilized for setting up memorials alone. 

“If the state government is particular that the property should be made as a memorial, instead of making the entire property as a ‘memorial”, the government may consider making use of a portion of the property to set up a memorial and the rest of the property as “Official residence-cum-Office of the Chief Minister of the State” instead of converting the property as a “memorial” as desired by the Government.

The order also noted that instead of acquiring the property that is valued over Rs.100cr and paying heavy compensation, the said amount could be used for developmental purposes such as building infrastructure, providing potable drinking water, cleaning of water bodies etc. “The real tribute to any leader should be paid by following his/her principles and working for the benefit of the people and development of the society”

This recommendation comes barely a week after Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit had promulgated an ordinance that allowed the State Government to take temporary possession of the AIADMK leader’s Poes Garden property. The residence is a sprawling bungalow measuring over 21000 sq ft and stands on ten grounds of prime real estate, at the heart of Chennai city. 

“The building “Veda Nilayam” including the movable items such as furniture, books, jewels are in a state of disuse for more than three years. So, the government decided to transfer all the immovable and movable properties to the government for its upkeep until the acquisition process is complete” read a statement issued on May 22nd. 

This ordinance was meant to enable the government to establish “Puratchi Thalaivi Dr J. Jayalalithaa Memorial foundation’ for making long term arrangements to convert Veda Nilayam as a memorial. 

After her demise, there was a lot of controversy surrounding her property, as attempts were being made by her acquaintance Sasikala to acquire the property. Besides her long term-aide Sasikala who had been living in the same residence, Jayalalithaa’s nephew and niece, Deepak and Deepa have also laid claim to the property on the premise that they were her only legal heirs.

After a power struggle within her party, the AIADMK, it was in August 2017 that Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami announced that the residence of the Late CM would be converted into a memorial and opened to the public.

Following the announcement in August, an administrative sanction was issued by the Tamil Development and Information Department in October 2017 for the acquisition of the residence. Action for the same had been initiated to acquire the land and building, preliminary notification was published in July 2019 and a declaration has been published in May 2020. 

Besides the memorial that is planned at her residence, the State Government has also been constructing a ‘Phoenix-themed’ memorial costing about 50 crores, by her resting place on the iconic Marina beach in Chennai.