Santiniketan land: Court sets aside Visva-Bharati's eviction order against Amartya Sen

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Suri (WB), Jan 31 (PTI) A court in West Bengal's Birbhum district on Wednesday set aside an order of eviction issued by Visva-Bharati on Nobel laureate Amartya Sen from a plot of land in Santiniketan.

The court of Birbhum district judge Sudeshna De (Chatterjee) held that Sen, who had appealed against the order of eviction issued by the estate officer of the university, and his father, the late Asutosh Sen, had been in continuous possession of the entire 1.38 acres of land since the grant of lease in 1943.

The court set aside the eviction order of April 19, 2023 on Sen from 13 decimals of land out of a total of 1.38 acres of land at Santiniketan.

The court noted that the university authorities claimed they became aware only in October, 2006 that a lease had been given for 1.25 acres of land when Sen filed an application for mutation in respect of 1.38 acres of land, but surprisingly action was taken in the form of issuing notices, including statutory notice, only in 2023.

She observed that a notice of March 17, 2023 as well as subsequent action taken by the university asking Sen for showing cause and ordering his eviction from 13 decimals of land under his occupation are erroneous and not in accordance with law and thus not legally sustainable.

In the 26-page judgement, the court observed that neither in three notices nor in the statutory notice, specific demarcation of the portion of land alleged to be illegally held by Sen had been described showing its measurement.

Holding that it is an admitted fact that the appellant is staying abroad, the court said that notices were sent for a survey of the property, but without affording any opportunity of a hearing and without conducting any survey of the land, the order of eviction was passed.

"It is very surprising to note that the university which slumbered over the issue without taking any effective measures according to law for 80 years, refused to give five months time to the appellant, who wanted the same to meet the queries as he was abroad," she observed.

The judge held that the act of the university was against the rule of natural justice.

Sen's lawyer contended before the court that the eviction order was passed in an arbitrary manner violating the principle of natural justice.

It was claimed in the appeal that it was only after Sen had made comments about some incidents in Visva-Bharati, the university authorities being annoyed, issued the notices of eviction.

The university authorities stated that the 99-year lease deed on October 27, 1943 in favour of the late Asutosh Sen, the father of Amartya Sen, was executed for 1.25 acres of land.

The estate officer claimed that it was found that the appellant was unauthorisedly occupying 13 decimals of land in excess of his entitlement. PTI COR AMR ACD