July 24: Allahabad High Court today blocked Amitabh Bachchan’s plans to donate his controversial land in Barabanki, handing Mayavati’s government a small victory.
The judge accepted government counsel D.K. Upadhya’s argument that since the court had already ordered status quo on the plots, both sides had to “honour” it.
The Faizabad additional district commissioner’s court had on June 1 ruled that the actor had bought the land in Daulatpur village through forgery and declared the deal illegal. But the high court stayed the order on June 8, ordering status quo.
Bachchan then tried to seize the moral high ground by writing to the Daulatpur sarpanch that he wished to donate the 4.5 bighas to the government so that it could build a school.
He was immediately snubbed by chief minister Mayavati, who scoffed: “When he is not the owner… how can he donate it'”
It kicked off a prestige battle, with Bachchan issuing a written response yesterday. He claimed the high court stay meant “this is my land and I shall do what I want with it”.
Upadhya raised the subject in the court today, arguing Bachchan’s offer to donate the land “was violative of the order for a status quo”.
The actor had earlier cited the land to get himself certified a farmer so he could hold on to a 24-acre plot he had bought in Maval, Pune. Maharashtra laws allow only a farmer to buy agricultural land. The Faizabad order put the Pune plot, too, in danger.
Bachchan, however, has offered to donate his Maval land, too, to the state’s government. But Pune collector Prabhakar Deshmukh almost echoed Mayavati, saying: “If it is conclusively proved that Bachchan did not enjoy the status of farmer in UP, the Pune land would automatically go to the state government and there will be no question of his donating it.”
Pune officials have written to the Barabanki collector for a clarification. If it goes in the actor’s favour, he can donate the Pune land but only after filing an affidavit relinquishing the plot and inviting objections from the public.