Ghai to surrender Whistling Woods land

Mumbai: In trouble for Bollywood filmmaker Subhash Ghai-run Whistling Woods, the Bombay High Court today ordered for the 20-acre land in suburban Goregaon, where the film and television institute 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 piece.

The bench has also directed Ghai to pay rent of Rs 5.3 crore annually since they year 2000 when the director entered into a joint venture with the government to start a film institute. The bench has however stayed its order for a period of eight weeks to permit the director-producer to approach Supreme Court.