CHANDIGARH: Bollywood film-maker Subhash Ghai suffered another jolt Tuesday when the Punjab and Haryana High Court quashed the allotment of a plot allotted to him by the Haryana government for setting up a film and acting institute.
Ghai was ordered to return the 20-acre land in Badhsa village of Jhajjar district to the village council.
A division bench of Acting Chief Justice Jasbir Singh and Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain said that giving the village common land to Ghai was not serving any public purpose.
The court told the village council to return the over Rs.8 crore that it took from the film-maker’s company Mukta Arts in October 2010.
The controversial land is located about 50 km from Delhi. Ghai bought the land from the council after it passed a resolution to give him the village common land.
The Haryana government, headed by Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, had permitted Ghai to purchase the land from the council.
The court quashed the allotment on a plea filed by retired teacher and Badhsa villager Nafe Singh. On May 29, the court had stayed work on the land.
“The decision to sell the village land to Mukta Arts was taken under pressure and not by free will. The village council headed by Sarpanch Ranbir Singh and his team did it all under the state government’s pressure,” petitioner’s counsel Deepak Balyan told IANS.
This is the second setback for Ghai and his film and acting school Whistling Woods International.
The Andhra Pradesh High Court and the Bombay High Court had in January and February quashed the allotments of land to Ghai’s film institute near Hyderabad and Mumbai.
The allotments were quashed on the grounds that the state governments had favoured Ghai.
The Haryana land allotment was earlier challenged in a court in Bahadurgarh town, 50 km from Delhi, but the plea was dismissed.
Ghai announced in October 2010 that he would set up the film institute in Haryana with a Rs.100 crore investment.