The Calcutta High Court on Monday imposed a token cost of Rs 10,000 on Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Sourav Ganguly and imposed a cost of Rs 50,000 each on the West Bengal government and a state-owned corporation over out of turn allotment of land to the cricketing hero in New Town area close to Kolkata to set up a school. (More Cricket News)
Passing the order, a division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Arijit Banerjee said there is need to have a defined policy to guide on all issues so that there is no arbitrary exercise of power by applying pick and choose formula.
The bench, in its order, said though the plot of land had been returned by the allottees, for the conduct of the state in generating litigation by an arbitrary exercise of power which runs contrary to the law laid down by the Supreme Court, a cost of Rs 50,000 each was imposed on the state and West Bengal Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (WBHIDCO).
The bench imposed a "token cost of 10,000" on the former India cricket captain and the Ganguly Education and Welfare Society "for the reason that 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 Hon’ble the Supreme Court."
The bench directed that the amount be deposited with the West Bengal State Legal Services Authority within four weeks from the date of receipt of the copy of the order.
The state government and WBHIDCO will be at liberty to recover the amount from the employees responsible for the decisions of allotment, the bench directed.
The bench passed the order on a PIL questioning out of turn allotment of two acres of land to Ganguly and the said society for setting up a school in New Town. The plot of land was surrendered to WBHIDCO in August 2020.
"The country always stands by the sportspersons, especially who represent the country in international events. It is also a fact that Sourav Ganguly has brought laurels for the country in cricket.
"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 question arises for allotment of plots for commercial ventures," the bench observed.
No one ever raises a finger when the government showers awards and benefits to sportspersons when they win any tournament, "but this system is not to continue in perpetuity", it said.
The bench said if Ganguly is interested in development of sports, especially cricket, in which he has many achievements to his credit, there may be already many state sports establishments, he can associate himself with them and motivate budding cricketers.
Nothing was placed before the court as regards any rules, regulations which permit HIDCO to accept surrender of the plot and refund the amount deposited, but still the procedure was followed, the bench said.
It said there is need to have a defined policy to guide on all issues so that there is no arbitrary exercise of power by applying pick and choose formula.
The PIL was filed in 2016 challenging allotment of the plot in New Town by WBHIDCO alleging violation of rules, regulations provided for allotment of plots.
The allotment was made to Ganguly and the society vide a letter dated September 27, 2013.
The petitioners claimed that in an earlier round of litigation, allotment of a plot of land to Ganguly in Salt Lake in 2009 was set aside by the Supreme Court in 2011.