A division bench of the Calcutta High Court has imposed a token cost of Rs 10,000 on BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and a cost of Rs 50,000 each on the government and state-owned West Bengal Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (WBHIDCO) for irregular allotment of land to the former captain to set up a school in New Town area.
The bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Arijit Banerjee, said the amount should be deposited with the West Bengal State Legal Services Authority within four weeks.
“Though the plot of land has been returned by the allottees, for the conduct of the state in generating litigation by arbitrary exercise of power that runs totally contrary to the law laid down by the Supreme Court, we impose a cost of Rs 50,000 each on the state and WBHIDCO,” the court said.
The court said the state government and WBHIDCO could recover the amount from the employees responsible for the allotment decision.
On the token cost of Rs 10,000 imposed on Sourav Ganguly and the Ganguly Education and Welfare Society, the court said, “Even they should have acted in accordance with law, specially considering the earlier judgment whereby arbitrary allotment of plot in their favour was set aside by the Supreme Court.”
The bench was hearing a PIL, filed in 2016, challenging the irregular allotment of two acres of land to Sourav Ganguly for setting up a school in New Town.
The allotment was made to Ganguly and the society on September 27, 2013. The plot of land was surrendered to WBHIDCO in August 2020.
“The country always stands by the sportspersons, especially those who represent the country at international events. It is also a fact that Sourav Ganguly has brought laurels to the country in cricket,” the court said.
“But when it comes to law, our constitutional scheme is that all are equal and no one can claim to be exclusive, above the law and seek benefits from the state, especially when a question arises about allotment of plots for commercial ventures,” the court further said.
The court also said there was a need to have a defined policy to guide on all issues so that there was no arbitrary exercise of power by applying a pick-and-choose formula.
An allotment of a plot of land to Ganguly in Salt Lake in 2009 was set aside by the Supreme Court in 2011.
(With PTI inputs)