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SC Ends Greyhounds Land Dispute, Declares it as Government Land

DECCAN CHRONICLE | N. Vamsi Srinivas

Published on: August 1, 2023 | Updated on: August 1, 2023

Supreme Court of India (PTI)

HYDERABAD: Ending a decades-long legal tangle over 326 acres of land in the prime Manchirevula area on the city outskirts, the Supreme Court on Tuesday declared it as government property and barred civil courts and High Courts from entertaining any claims over it.

The land is in the custody of the Greyhounds, the elite police force engaged in anti-left wing extremists operations. The apex court took the decision after weighing the balance with "land mafia" on the one side and "a security agency of paramount national importance" on the other.

The bench comprising Justice Surya Kant and Justice J.K. Maheshwari while dismissing the claims of ownership of private parties upheld the judgment of a division bench of the Telangana High Court that went in favour of the government.

Maintaining that the parties had been litigating over the land since 1994, the SC said the subject land had acquired enormous value and that "land mafia has already ousted the gullible assignees and now have vulture’s eyes on the land."

The land mafia, according to a case filed by the city police, includes Vessala Group companies owned by a relative of former police official M. Sivananda Reddy who contested on  a Telugu Desam ticket from the Nandyal Lok Sabha in Andhra Pradesh in 2019. Known for his close links with a senior Telangana police official, Reddy’s family issued cheques to the assignees and entered into agreements of sale over the prime land even when the matter was sub-judice.

Despite pressure from the higher-ups, then joint commissioner of police Avinash Mohanty conducted a deep investigation, searched the premises of Reddy’s family and seized incriminating evidence linking it to the Manchirevula land.

The SC declared that the "land in its entirety is declared to have vested in the state government. On further allotment, its ownership and possessory rights, free from all encumberances stand transferred in favour of the Greyhounds."

Further, no civil court or High Court shall entertain any claim on behalf of any assignee, their legal representatives, GPA holder or any other claimant under any agreement to sell or other instruments claiming direct or indirect interest in the subject land. There shall be a final quietus of title and possessory dispute over the land in favour of the State and agency to which the land was allotted, it added.

The dispute over the land started with a local revenue official granting assignment of more than permitted extent of five acres each to several individuals who in turn sold or entered into agreements with others. After taking several twists and turns, the High Court resolved the issue in favour of the state government in January 2022, resulting the private claimants knocking on the apex court’s doors.

Senior counsels C.S. Vaidyanathan, V. Giri and K.K. Venugopal represented the state government while former Greyhounds chief K. Srinivas Reddy and a team of revenue officials comprising former Rajendranagar revenue divisional officer K. Chandrakala and tahsildar Rajasekhar took special interest and made several trips to the national capital to pursue the case, sources said.