Indian-American billionaire Vinod Khosla has lost a court battle against shutting down public access to a beach popular among swimmers in northern California.
Khosla, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems, was sued by the Surfrider Foundation for illegally blocking access to Martin's beach last year, arguing it has been accessible since 1918 and belonged to the public, NBC news reported.
He had bought a 53-acre property adjacent to the Martin's beach in Half Moon Bay for $32.5 million in 2010 and blocked off public access to the beach the same year.
San Mateo County Superior Court declared on Wednesday that Khosla's failure to obtain a Coastal Development Permit before blocking access to the beach was illegal and that a permit was required to close the gate. He must open it for the public.
Following the judgement, the victorious attorney said that great wealth cannot be used to circumvent and ignore the law.
"Today's decision is a huge victory for all of the people of California," Joe Cotchett of Cotchett, Pitre and McCarthy, the firm representing Surfrider was quoted as saying by the report.
The court could have fined Khosla $15,000 a day for every day access was blocked, but it waived the fines while ruling that his conduct was in good faith and that penalties and fines are not justified, the report said.
With the ruling, now anyone can pass through legally and visit the pristine sands of Martin's Beach. Khosla, an IIT Delhi and Stanford University alumnus, was listed by Forbes magazine as a billionaire this year.