A division bench of Calcutta High Court comprising acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Arijit Banerjee 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 - WBHIDCO for irregular allotment of plot to the former Indian skipper to set up a school in New Town area close to Kolkata.
The bench, in its order, said "we need not quash the allotment of plot as the same stands already surrendered, however, for the conduct of the State in generating litigation by arbitrary exercise of power which runs totally contrary to the law laid down by the Supreme Court, we impose a cost of Rs 50,000 each on State and WBHIDCO (West Bengal Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation)."
The bench imposed a "token cost of 10,000" on BCCI President and the 'Ganguly Education and Welfare Society' "for the reason that even they should have acted in accordance with law especially considering the earlier judgment whereby arbitrary allotment of plot in their favour was set aside by the Supreme Court."
Passing the order, a division bench also 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, however, said: "The state government and HIDCO will be at liberty to recover the cost from the respective persons in their employment, who were responsible for the irregular allotment of the concerned plot of land in favour of the Respondent".
The bench passed the order on a PIL questioning the 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 those 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.
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.