India news September 16, 2010

Supreme Court asks Ganguly to explain land acquisition

Cricinfo staff

Former India captain Sourav Ganguly has been asked by the Supreme Court to respond to a petition alleging that land worth US$9.69 million was given to him by the West Bengal state government for approximately $136,000 so he can build a school.

An appeal challenging an earlier Calcutta High Court order approving the allocation was filed by a society called Humanity, and heard on Monday, according to the Times of India. The Supreme Court has given Ganguly four weeks to file his response.

A bench comprising Justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly said that "a major source of corruption in our country lies in our habit to make exceptions", and has also asked the West Bengal government's urban development department, its secretary and the secretary of the law department to file responses to the petition within eight weeks.

The society has alleged that the allocation of land to Ganguly is "bad in law" and that the High Court upheld the transfer despite a number of violations of the rules for allotment and school affiliations. According to the petition, 24 applications from a number of schools, societies and trusts were submitted to the government in response to an advertisement to set up a school in Salt Lake City, a satellite township on the outskirts of Kolkata. Yet Ganguly's application was the one accepted.

After taking possession of three-fourths of an acre, Ganguly reportedly asked state urban development minister Ashok Bhattacharya for more land as the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) requires a school to have a minimum of one acre. The state promptly gave him the additional land, according to the petition.

ICSE rules also state that one person cannot be in control of a school, so Ganguly formed a society made up of his mother, father, sister, brother, wife and other relatives, the petition claims.