Mumbai, April 3 (IANS) Bollywood actor Rani Mukherji moved a petition in the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court Thursday, challenging the cancellation of her ownership of a piece of land in Maharashtra.
Rani's father Ram Mukherjee arrived in Aurangabad and furnished the necessary documents pertaining to the land deal before the registrar of the court.
The petition challenging the Shrirampur sub-divisional officer's (SDO) order directing her to surrender the land in Ningaonkovali village, on the border of Nasik and Ahmednagar districts, will come up for notice before the court Friday.
Nandkumar Suryavanshi, the SDO, said that earlier there was a sugar factory on the land that was subsequently closed. Since the factory had excess land, the government took it over in accordance with the Urban Land Ceiling Act (ULCA) and handed it over to the Maharashtra State Farming Corporation (MSFC).
As the land remained unused for a long time, the MSFC sold it to the original owner, a farmer who worked in a hotel in Shirdi town. From the farmer, Rani bought the plot in December 2005 for Rs.3.3 million.
However, when she applied for registration of the plot in her name, the revenue department refused permission and stressed that as it was an agriculture land, only a farmer could buy it.
The deputy collector of Ahmednagar district conducted an inquiry and Rani was asked to pay penalty for buying a farmland. Since the actress failed to pay the penalty, the Shrimanpur SDO ordered her name be deleted from the sale deed.
Suryavanshi told IANS that instead of going to the court, Rani could have availed of the options of either regularising the plot in her name at a reduced penalty or ask to reconsider the decision.
'But as per the ULCA, the penalty on her could not have been waived totally,' he said.
The actor's father Ram told the media in Aurangabad that Rani did not commit any irregularity in the land purchase.
'The deal was transacted as per the laid down procedure and the payment of the stamp duty. Rani was not the first person to purchase the land - it has changed hands at least six times before Rani bought it,' he said.
'The penalty imposed on her is totally unfair. Why did the objection not come up earlier? Is it because she is a celebrity, a Bollywood star? Would this ever have happened if any common man had purchased the land?' he added.