Filmmaker Subhash Ghai's Whistling Woods Institute was granted interim relief on Wednesday by the Bombay high court, which stayed its earlier order directing the film school to surrender the land on which it stands by July 31. The court was hearing a review petition filed by Mukta Arts Limited challenging its 2012 order scrapping the land allotment.
However, the division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice M S Sonak directed the institute to deposit Rs 10.38 crore with the Maharashtra Film, Stage and Cultural Development Corporation Limited (MFSCDC) in installments within five months. This amount is a sum of pending arrears for occupying the land from 2000 to 2012.
In 2012, the HC had scrapped the land's allotment after hearing a PIL filed by Rajendra Sontakke. It had accused then chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh of "gross abuse of power" while allotting 20 acres to Ghai.
The institute will also have to pay Rs 45 lakh as annual rent for the 5.5 acres of land it occupies. Around 14.5 acres was surrendered to the government in 2012, while the 5.5 acres was to be surrendered by July 31.
Counsel Aspi Chinoy, appearing for Mukta Arts, said, "The order of the high court has proceeded on the footing that no government resolution was passed, but it is a fact that the Board of MFSCDC had passed a resolution to allot the land to Mukta Arts on their proposal."
"There are several purposes which are for good causes, but rules are rules. The fact that they surrendered 14.5 acres of land soon after the high court order in 2012 shows they have accepted the order and there cannot be any review now," said advocate general Darius Khambata.