The Supreme Court on Thursday quashed the land allotment to former Indian cricket captain Saurav Ganguly in the elite Salt Lake area of Kolkota. A Bench comprising Justice G S Singhvi and Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly passed a judgment in this regard and in the process set aside the land allotted to the cricketer. It directed him to return the land in two weeks time. It also directed the West Bengal Government to refund the Rs 20 lakh paid by him.
The land allotment is illegal and in violation of the Urban Land Ceiling Act, the Bench felt. Ganguly was allotted a piece of one acre land in the Salt Lake area in the year 2000 to start a school there.
However, many local residents and an NGO had raised a hue and cry saying that the land in the Salt Lake is very costly and what the cricketer paid was a pittance. Soon, several writ petitions were filed in the Calcutta High Court.
On February 17, 2009, the High Court, by its order said the allottee (Ganguly) has to pay the state government a sum of Rs 43 lakh failing which the lease deed shall be treated as invalid and possession of the land be taken back by the government. This order of the High Court was challenged before the apex court by the NGO and two others.
History of the case
It was on November 5, 2006 that the state government issued an advertisement earmarking a plot of land for setting up an integrated school from primary level to higher secondary level. It was stated that the school would basically be academic in nature, but with extra-curricular activities. Ganguly applied for the plot, it was allotted, but soon thereafter, he sought a bigger plot citing ICSE stipulations that the plot should be larger than 60 kathas.
Justice Ganguly said, “In this case, the plot was allotted no doubt, but everything was rushed through in hot haste, which is unreasonable, arbitrary and the High Court was wrong in upholding the same.”