The Bombay high court on Thursday ordered for the 20-acre land in suburban Goregaon, where Subhash Ghai's film institute Whistling Woods is located, to be handed over to the Maharashtra government.
"In the interest of justice, we direct respondent number 3 and 4 (Ghai and Whistling Woods) to vacate 14.5 acre area immediately which shall be resumed by the state government. The remaining 5.5 acre where the institute is constructed shall be taken over by the government on July 31, 2014 by when all the ongoing courses at the film institute shall be completed," a division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Girish Godbole said.
The HC has also restrained Whistling Woods from granting admissions to students for courses which will go beyond 2014.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Rajendra Sontakke and four other agriculturists from Latur and Osmanabad districts, alleging "gross abuse of power" by former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh in allotting the land.
The bench has also directed Ghai to pay rent of Rs 5.3 crore annually since 2000, when the director entered into a joint venture with the government to start a film institute.
The bench stayed its order for a period of eight weeks to permit the director-producer to approach the Supreme Court.
Ghai said he plans to challenge the order in the Supreme Court. "We respect the high court judgment and we will appeal to the Supreme Court for our lawful rights. We are at no fault and have done nothing wrong. We entered a legal joint venture in 2002 with Film City to use the land for building a world-class film and media institute which was challenged by a PIL in court after 10 yrs. We hope to get full justice from the Supreme Court," he told rediff.com.