In yet another setback to the Bollywood film director Subhash Ghai, the Punjab and Haryana high court has restrained gram panchayat Badhsa in Jhajjar district of Haryana from leasing out and transfer of 20 acres land to Ghai's company Mukta Arts for opening Whistling Woods film institute.
Earlier, the high courts of Maharashtra on February 9, 2012, and Andhra Pradesh on January 27, 2010, had set aside the respective state governments' decisions of allotting 20 acres of land each to Ghai's film institute.
A division bench comprising acting chief justice MM Kumar and justice Alok Singh ordered the authorities concerned to maintain status quo with regard to the ownership of the land under challenge in a petition filed by a retired school teacher Nafe Singh of village Badhsa. The petitioner alleged that the village common land was sold to Ghai's private company in the guise of "public purpose".
The panchayat land measuring 20 acres in village Badhsa situated on the border of Delhi and millinium city Gurgaon near to Kundli-Manesar express highway was sold to Ghai's Mukta Arts in the name of Whistling Woods for Rs 24.09 lakhs per acre on September 30, 2010 where the total cost would be Rs 8.3 crores.
The bench also issued notice of motion to Ghai, Haryana government and deputy commissioner Jhajjar so as to file their replies to the contentions raised in the petition before July 31.
Alleging nepotism and discrimination, the petitioner apprised the bench that Haryana government's decision to grant permission to the gram panchayat to sell "shamlat land"(village common land) to Mukta Arts was in violation of rule 12 of the Punjab Village Common (Regulation) Rules, 1964 applicable also to Haryana.
The gram panchayat had passed the resolutions regarding sale of land to Mukta Arts on January 6, 2010 and September 21, 2010 which had been challenged by the petitioner.
It was also submitted that Mukta Arts was also favoured by Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh governments by allotting 20 acres of land for opening film institute Whistling Woods. However, high court's of both the states had given the verdict against Ghai's company.
Bombay high court had ordered Whistling Woods international film institute to return the land at film city Mumbai, in which the Supreme Court on March 24 had refused to stay indictment of union science and technology minister and the then chief minister of Maharashtra Vilasrao Deshmukh by Bombay high court.
The Bombay high court had also ordered to close down the film institute by 2014 after paying Rs 54 crore lease rent for the land in possession since 2000.
Similarly, Andhra Pradesh high court had set aside the state government's order of allotment of 20 acres of prime land at Ibrahimbagh village near historic Golconda fort, stated the petitioner.