Subhash Ghai and ex-CM Vilasrao Deshmukh in land deal controversy

Spicezee Bureau

Mumbai: Filmmaker Subhash Ghai seems to have stirred quite a controversy. The ace filmmaker is in trouble as the Bombay High Court has asked the state to reply to allegations that former Chief Minister and Union Heavy Industries minister Vilasrao Deshmukh had breached rules while allotting land to Ghai and a trust in Latur.

The division bench comprising of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice SJ Kathawala were responding to a public interest litigation filed by Latur resident Rajendra Sontakke and four other agriculturists citing a Comptroller and Auditor General of India report, which has pointed out several irregularities in allotment of land to Whistling Woods, Ghai’s Goregaon-based firm that offers film-making courses, for operations in Latur under the aegis of Vilasrao Deshmukh Foundation.

And this isn’t the first time that a PIL has been filed against Ghai. Two earlier PILs had also questioned these land allotments. And now the judges have directed the state to reply to the CAG report within four weeks.

The PIL states that the institute promoted by Ghai got the 20-acre land after gross-misuse of power by Deshmukh during his tenure as the CM. According to the petition, the Maharashtra Film Stage and Cultural Development Corporation Limited (MFSCDCL) entered into a joint venture with Ghai’s Mukta Arts to start Whistling Woods at an authorised share capital of Rs20 crore. Mukta Arts was to invest Rs 17 crore and MFSCDCL was to get the land allotted. MFSCDCL and Mukta Arts were to share equity at the ratio of 15: 85% respectively.

The petitioners alleged that Deshmukh was interested in the joint venture because of his actor son Riteish. Their advocate Mahesh Jethmalani told the court, “The land was valued at Rs325 per sq m instead of the prevailing market rate of Rs3,900 per sq m.”

As of now, the matter has been adjourned till January 13.