SC hits Sourav's school ambition for a huge six

SC hits Sourav's school ambition for a huge six

By all legal standards it was a balanced judgment.

After quashing the allotment of more than an acre of prime land in Kolkata’s north-east that was given by the Left Front regime to former Indian cricket team captain Sourav Ganguly to establish a school, the Supreme Court appreciated the batsman’s “glorious cover drives” and “effortless lofted shots”.

While observing that the Left Front-ruled West Bengal government had violated constitutional principles in allotting a bigger plot to Sourav, a Bench of justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly said that by granting 63.04 cottahs (over an acre) in Salt Lake City in place of the original plot measuring 50 cottahs in 2009 was done in an “unreasonable and arbitrary” manner.

“This court does not find any legitimacy in the action of the (West Bengal) government which has to act within the discipline of the constitutional law, explained by this Court in a catena of cases. We are sorry to hold that in making the impugned allotment in favour of the allottee, in the facts and circumstances of the case, the state has failed to discharge its constitutional role,” the Bench said.

Acknowledging that even though Sourav was a good cricketer, the judges said he could not claim any expertise in running the proposed higher secondary school and directed him to surrender the plot within two weeks.

“In the instant case, the allottee may be a well-known sportsman but does not claim any expertise as an educationist. Here within a month of the allottee’s application, the allotment was made  by the state without any detailed consideration,” the court said. It noted that out of seven members in the 'Ganguly Education and Welfare Society' run by the former Indian team captain, five were his direct family members having the same address in Kolkata against ICSE norms.

The court allowed a bunch of petitions filed by a West Bengal-based NGO Humanity and others against a Calcutta High Court order upholding the decision to allot the land to Sourav on February 17, 2009. In its petition, the NGO had alleged that the West Bengal government had illegally allotted land to Sourav in deference to his request without amending the masterplan.

In April last year, the Calcutta High Court upheld the land allotment observing in its order that there was no arbitrariness in the state government's allotment of land to Sourav.
Despite the adverse order, it was also a case of one Ganguly appreciating another. Like any other fan, Justice Ganguly commended Sourav, while saying that in passing the judgment he was keeping his personal likes aside.

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