With the Supreme Court refusing to set aside a Bombay high court verdict against Subhash Ghai on Wednesday, the Bollwood director will have return 20 acres of land – allotted to his film institute, Whistling Woods, at Filmcity in Mumbai – to the Maharashtra government.
"One cannot be treated as a blue-eyed boy, for whom rules can be bent or bypassed to give away land of the state... There is lack of transparency in the allotment," a bench of justice HL Dattu and justice CK Prasad told Ghai’s counsel, Mukul Rohatgi.
The senior counsel denied any quid pro quo between Ghai and former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh in the matter. Deshmukh’s appeal, challenging the high court’s remarks against him, is pending before the Supreme Court.
In view of this development, Ghai would have to hand over 14.5 acres of land on Thursday. The government will take over of the remaining 5.4 acres, on which the institute has been constructed, in July 2014. Until then, the institute will not be allowed to admit fresh students.
As per the high court order, Ghai was required to pay the market rent at an annual rate of Rs 5.3 crore for the 20-acre land from 2000 – retrospectively. However, once he has surrendered the 14.5-acre plot, he would be entitled to pay only for the remaining 5.4 acres till 2014.
Land was allotted after a joint venture was signed between his film studio, Mukta Arts, and the Maharashtra Film, Stage and Cultural Development Corporation.