April 04, 2020
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'We Must Appeal To The SC'

UP government's chief standing counsel who represented the state in the Amitabh Bachchan Barabanki land case is severely critical of the high court judgement which let the star off the hook.

'We Must Appeal To The SC'
What is your reaction to the order?
Well, it's a bundle of contradictions.

Could you elaborate on that...
On the one hand, the honourable judge has issued directions to make corrections in the Daulatpur gram sabha land records, which showed Amitabh Bachchan as the owner of a plot of land. Now that amounts to virtually upholding the order of the Faizabad additional commissioner who had ruled that the entries made in the records were incorrect and forged. On the other hand, a direction has been issued not to initiate any civil, criminal or revenue proceedings against Bachchan.

But that was because the court felt that Bachchan himself was not a party to the forgery.
So what? What needs to be seen is who was the intended beneficiary of the forgery. In this case, it was none other than Amitabh Bachchan.

Do you think the UP government has a strong case for appeal before the Supreme Court?
We must appeal. That is my advice to the Uttar Pradesh government.

What was the key issue before the honourable court?
The issue before the court was not to go into who the land belongs to. The main issue was whether land records were fudged or not. If the court felt that the records were not tampered and nothing irregular had been done, then what was the need to issue a direction to set the records straight? I firmly believe the court order was beyond the scope of the legal proceedings. Furthermore, the court took into account the statement of the gram sabha counsel, who was not empowered to speak on behalf of the state. Gram sabha land is vested with the district magistrate, who is the appropriate authority to take a decision in respect of such land. Therefore, no cognisance should have been taken of the counsel's offer to absolve Bachchan of all criminal liability if he agreed to abdicate claim over the land.

Would anyone other than Bachchan have got off so easily?
Any other person involved in direct or indirect forgery of official land records intended to benefit himself would have been charged under various sections of the IPC—420 for forgery; 467, 468 and 471 for fudging official records, as well as 120-B for criminal conspiracy.
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