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Land allotment case: Big B's fate in balance
Sharat Pradhan in Faizabad | May 30, 2007 00:19 IST
A Faizabad court on Tuesday reserved the judgment in the alleged fraudulent allotment of government-owned agricultural land in Uttar Pradesh to actor Amitabh Bachchan by the Mulayam Singh Yadav government.
The case that has drawn much media attention over the past few days was listed for final hearing before Additional Commissioner Vidya Sagar.
After hearing the arguments and looking into the relevant documents, Sagar ruled at the end of the day: "The judgment stands reserved until May 31." He, however, did not give any reason.
Bachchan had received about 70,000 square feet of land in Barabanki, 35 km from Lucknow. What went against him was the blatant misrepresentation of facts to become and the way he used the allotment as a testimonial to establish his credentials as a 'farmer' in Maharashtra.
Sources said that the entire exercise was carried out at the behest of Bachchan's close friend and Mulayam's aide Amar Singh to enable the superstar to purchase a farmland in Maharashtra, where the rules do not permit the ownership of agricultural land by anyone other than a farmer.
It was a query by the Pune district collector in March 2006 to the Barabanki district magistrate seeking the authentication of the UP testimonial that exposed Bachchan.
The then Barabanki district magistrate Ashish Goel cancelled the allotment on the ground that the land revenue records had been fudged. Goel naturally earned the state government's wrath and was given the marching orders within a few days. He was replaced by a more pliable Ram Shankar Sahu, who agreed to sign on the dotted line.
However, since Goel's objections had become a part of the official records which could not have been destroyed, Sahu could not do much besides staying his predecessor's order and that too only "till further orders."
Since this did not end Bachchan's woes and worries about his 'farmer' status in Maharashtra where he has already bought a plush farmhouse, he sought a review of the DM's order by the commissioner, hoping to get the land clearly restored in his name. But with the elections announced and major bureaucratic changes affected by the Election Commission, Bachchan could not have his way.
The allotment, purported to have been made way back in 1983 was actually alleged to have been made by manipulating the land revenue records during the Mulayam regime, when Amitabh was also appointed the state's brand Ambassador.