HMT land sale legal, says State government
Affidavit says HMT not legally bound to get sanction HMT Limited is legally entitled to deal with its 100 acres of land at Kalamassery in Ernakulam and the assignment of 70 acres of the land to a Mumbai-based company would not be invalid or illegal either for want of consent from the government or for non-utilisation of the land for industrial purpose, according to an affidavit filed by the State government before the Kerala High Court. The affidavit was filed before the court on Tuesday in response to a writ petition seeking a CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation] probe into the HMT land deal and to resume the 100 acres in HMT's possession. The affidavit contended that the 70 acres sold by HMT formed part of the 100 acres of land for which permanent exemption had been granted by the government under Section 81(1) (a) of the Kerala Land Reforms Act. As such, HMT was not legally bound to obtain sanction or consent from the State government before selling the land. The allegation that Industries Minister Elamaram Karim had supported the sale of land at a meeting convened on June 6, 2007 was absolutely incorrect, the affidavit said. The meeting was convened to sort out a labour problem which had been pending for long in HMT. Mr. Karim had been trying his best, in his capacity as Minister, to augment the development of industries in the State and to see that infrastructure facilities were provided for entrepreneurs. All actions taken by the Minister in this regard were in compliance with the guidelines prescribed in the industrial and commercial policy of 2007. For creating a very good industrial climate and sending out a message that the situation in the State was very conducive for investment, the Minster had initiated steps for sorting out the labour problem in the company. The affidavit said the 70 acres sold by HMT did not come within the area of land ordered to be surrendered by HMT as per an order of the Kanayannur taluk land board. The affidavit said that HMT had absolute right, title and ownership of the land. HMT was fully competent to transfer the 100 acres or part of it to any person without the permission of the government. Therefore, the sale was perfectly in accordance with the law.