Jaipur: The Rajasthan High Court on Thursday cancelled 99-year lease for 100 acre land with historical Jal Mahal on it within the 16th century Man Sagar Lake, given by the state government to a private firm to develop tourist resort there.
A division bench of Chief Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Mahesh Bhagwati revoked the state government`s 2005 order saying that the government had no right to lease out the public property and it violated all norms in leasing it out.
While cancelling the lease to the firm for executing `Jal Mahal Project,` the court also revoked the government`s order to give heritage monument Jal Mahal, located in the middle of the picturesque lake, on a license to the `Jal Mahal Resorts Pvt Ltd` and directed the government to take possession of the land and the monument with immediate effect.
The court`s order came on a plea by social activist Bhatwat Gaur, who through his counsel AK Jain, had alleged that the government had given the land on throwaway price of 2.5 crore per annum to the firm.
The court also directed the government to remove all construction raised at the site by the developer and recover its cost from it.
The public land adjoining Man Sagar Lake was handed over on lease for 99 years by Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation to the firm for developing tourist facilities around the lake.
The deal got mired in controversy when objections were raised as to how the government land could be leased out for 99 years instead of 30 years, which was akin to selling it.
Gaur had lodged criminal complaints against the then RTDC officials and later filed petition in the high court in May 2010.
The government land initially belonged to Jaipur Development Authority, but had been transferred to the RTDC which handed it over to the private firm for the construction of resorts and developing other infrastructure for a fee of Rs 2.5 crore per year.
Jal Mahal was built by Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799 as a summer palace in the lake located on Amber road here.