MUMBAI: The final decision has been rendered. The Supreme Court has ordered filmmaker Subhash Ghai to return land of film school – Whistling Woods.
In agreement with High Court’s decision, Ghai has been ordered by the Apex Court to return the whole 21 acres allotted to his film academy. 14.5 acres that are currently vacant will be handed back immediately to the government, the balance 5.5 acres that are in use are to be given back in 2014 so that students currently enrolled can complete their courses. The High Court had also ordered Mr Ghai to pay 5 crores in rent per year since 2000.
Speaking to businessofcinema.com, Ghai said, “I respect the judiciary of my country. Supreme Court dismissed our appeal on the grounds that Maharashtra Government should have followed the proper governance to enter into a joint venture.”
“People must take precautions before dealing with the State government, than being penalized after 10 years with heavy investment and losses,” warned Ghai. “We will discuss the future course of action with our team of lawyers and wait for Government’s reaction,” he added.
Ex-Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh who was instrumental in the deal was shown no mercy by the Court, which described the transaction as "The largesse of a state doled out at the behest of the Chief Minister at a paltry sum to a blue-eyed boy."
So now, what happens to the school?
“Whistling Woods will survive as bright as ever though we miss the land. Land is never strength of education; rather education is the strength of any land. We are opening the school in many states now and will also carry on movie business in full strength,” reassured Ghai.
The stock price of Mukta Arts Ltd. has reached its all time low, touching price of Rs 28.20, eroding its market capitalisation to only Rs 680 million (Rs 68 crores).
Oct 2000: MFSCDC entered into JV with Mukta Arts, for Whistling Woods and gave a 20-acre piece of land in Film City, for Rs 3 crore.
2009: PIL filed by a five people described as farmers, saying land was given at throwaway price.
9th Feb 2012: Bombay High Court referred to a CAG report, which stated that the land ought to have been valued at Rs 31.20 crores and ordered Mukta Arts to return the land.
4th April 2012: In a landmark decision, Supreme Court ordered Subhash Ghai to return land and slammed Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh