Did Big B commit a Fraud?
A court here Friday cancelled the allotment of state-owned farm land to Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan in an Uttar Pradesh village by the Mulayam Singh Yadav government, calling it “an act of forgery”.
Faizabad Additional Commissioner Vidya Sagar Prasad ruled that entry in the land records declaring Bachchan as the owner of the particular plot of land in Daulatpur village in Barabanki district, 35 km from Lucknow, was “tampered and forged.”
The court also ruled that Bachchan was “not a farmer” – as he had claimed.
The star, a friend of former chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, had received 3 ‘bighas’ (about 70,000 sq feet) of land in the village from the government as largesse.
The allotment, purported to have been made way back in 1983, was actually allegedly made by interpolation in the land revenue records during the Mulayam regime. Friday’s order shows the allotment was backdated.
According to government advocate Surendra Raje, who argued the case before the land revenue court here, apparently this was done to enable Amitabh to acquire the status of a ‘farmer’ without which a huge farmland he bought in Pune could not be transferred in his name under the Maharastra land laws.
Political circles here maintain that the entire exercise was carried out to obviously circumvent Maharastra rules that don’t permit ownership of farmland by anyone other than a farmer.
However, it was a query by Pune collector in March 2006 to the Barabanki district magistrate seeking authentication of the Uttar Pradesh testimonial that opened the Pandora’s box.
Then Barabanki District Magistrate Ashish Goel cancelled the allotment in March 2006 on the ground that the land revenue records had been forged.
Goel earned the wrath of both Mulayam Singh Yadav and his confidant Amar Singh and was soon given the marching order. Ram Shankar Sahu, who succeeded him, agreed to sign on the dotted line.
However, since Goel’s objections had become a part of the official records that could not be 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 Maharastra, where he had already bought a plush farmhouse, so he sought a review of the district magistrate’s order by the commissioner, hoping to get the land restored in his name.
But with elections getting announced and major bureaucratic changes affected by the Election Commission, Bachchan could not have his way.
And now, with Mayawati in charge of Uttar Pradesh, the new additional commissioner found everything wrong with Amitabh’s allotment.
“That the intention of the superstar was questionable became evident from the manner in which the superstar sought to conceal his real identity by showing his name as just ‘Amitabh’ and dropping ‘Bachchan’ even from his father Harivansh Rai’s name,” alleged local lawyer L.R. Rathore.
In a recent interview to a TV channel, Amitabh had said he was ready to face a probe into the matter.
“I am a law-abiding citizen and will obey whatever the law asks me to do. If proved wrong, we are ready to face penalty. If everything is found to be in order, I would say thank you,” he had told the channel.