The issue of this illegal construction came to the limelight after Devikulam MLA S Rajendran was caught on camera publicly insulting Renu Raj, the Devikulam sub-collector.

Devikulam MLA row Kerala HC orders stay on illegal construction in Munnar
news Controversy Wednesday, February 13, 2019 - 19:00

In what comes as a major blow to the Devikulam MLA, S Rajendran and the Munnar Grama Panchayat, the Kerala High Court on Wednesday has directed the Panchayat and the Panchayat Secretary to immediately stop the illegal construction happening on the banks of the Muthirapuzha river.

The issue of this illegal construction in Munnar came to the limelight after visuals of Devikulam MLA S Rajendran publicly insulting Renu Raj, the Devikulam sub-collector, were aired by several Malayalam news channels. Renu had earlier ordered the panchayat to stop the construction of a shopping complex on the given land, much to the dislike of the MLA and the Panchayat members. The MLA had publicly challenged the revenue officials by asking who is going to stop them from constructing the building.

The High Court order on Wednesday was based on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by MY Ouseph, a CPI member of the Devikulam Local Self Government.

The HC has also ordered the Secretary of the Grama Panchayat, “to show cause as to why they should not be proceeded against for willfully violating the mandates of the court.”

The court has also ordered the Government of Kerala,  the Idukki District Collector, the Sub Collector, the village officer and the Tahsildar to ensure that no construction is carried out in the particular land and to legally proceed against those persons, who are found to be engaged in any construction activity.

This order by the Kerala HC comes a day after the Idukki district collector, Jeevan Babu sent a report to the Kerala government defending the actions of sub-collector Renu Raj and also pointing out that Devikulam CPI(M) MLA S Rajendran had publicly humiliated Renu who was merely doing her duty.

The sub-collector had earlier informed the Panchayat that they cannot go ahead with the construction of the shopping complex without getting the No Objection Certificate from the Revenue Department. This irked the Devikulam MLA, who visited the Revenue divisional office to tell the sub-collector that her decision to stop the construction is wrong and that the construction must happen.

When the sub-collector sent a group of revenue officials to stop the construction of the shopping complex, they were blocked by the MLA and the Panchayat president. It was during this time that the MLA was seen to publicly insult the sub-collector, saying, “She doesn’t have brains. Just because she is an IAS, she is trying to act smart. People who study only to become a collector will only have so much brains.”