Kerala plantation firm in land possession dispute

Written by RajeshRavi | Kochi | Updated: Mar 2 2013, 08:13am hrs
Plantation company Harrisons Malayalam (HML) has run into trouble with the Kerala High Court ruling that the state government can initiate action against any of the properties in possession of the company, under the provisions of the Land Conservancy Act, within two months.

HML is Indias largest producer of rubber, South Indias largest cultivator of tea and, perhaps, the largest producer of pineapple in the region. The company has been fighting a legal battle with the state government and other petitioners over the plantations it holds.

A high court division bench passed the directive while disposing of a writ petition filed by Harikumar, a lawyer, and others seeking a directive to take over the land alleged to be illegally in possession of HML in the state. The petitioner alleged that HML had about 65,000 acre of land in the state in its possession. Out of this, 9,352 acre were forest land located at Nagamala, East Field, Venduce estate and Ambalamedu estate.

He alleged that HML was functioning without necessary approvals from the Reserve Bank of India and other central agencies. The court also held that if there was a violation of the provisions of FERA and FEMA, appropriate action could be taken against the company.

Earlier, in November 2012, another division bench of the Kerala High Court had ruled that an amalgamation of HML companies would be subject to its final orders. The state government has informed the financial regulatory bodies and stock exchanges across the country that sanction should not be given for amalgamation or merger until the final disposal of cases related to the possession of its land. The government had submitted before the court that the company was consistently attempting to change the status of the land under the guise of amalgamation by flouting land rules of the state, including the Land Reforms Act.

The company had posted revenue of R364.98 crore in the last fiscal with a net profit of R4.72 crore. HML shares closed 1.21 % down on Friday at R53.10.