U’khand chief justice wants Mamata to take action against ABP owner Aveek Sarkar

The chief justice of Uttarakhand, Justice Barin Ghosh, has sought action from the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee against a powerful media house owner in Kolkata over a ‘proposed transferring of a piece of land belonging to the century-old Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC) to an outsider’. 

Justice Ghosh has alleged that Aveek Sarkar, the owner of Ananda Bazar Patrika (ABP) group as well as the captain of RCGC, has proposed to transfer six acres (approx) of the club’s vacant land by way of sale or lease to an outsider.

‘I am the oldest member of the RCGC and I wrote a letter to Sri Sarkar (Aveek) and brought to his knowledge that transferring of land is not permissible. Many members of the RCGC have also opposed it. In consequence, the proposal was dropped and a meeting was called for their consent,’ Justice Ghosh’s letter reads.

Earlier, Justice Ghosh met Sarkar and apprised him of the legal position of the proposal. The media baron told Ghosh that they are trying to have the Urban Land Ceiling Act (ULCA) repealed to execute his said proposal. It is being proposed that RCGC will generate about Rs 300 to Rs 500 crores by selling or leasing out such land.

‘It is being circulated that the government has agreed or is likely to agree to permit RCGC to sell or lease out six acres of such vacant land. I hope that you will sympathetically look into the matter,’ Ghosh’s letter to chief minister Mamata Banerjee reads.

‘With little knowledge of law it does not convince me that a licensor will permit a licensee to sell land, which legally belongs to the licensor. In this case, licensor is the state. I am also worried about the outcome of the public interest litigation that may be launched challenging the decision of the government to permit RCGC for the proposal,’ it reads.

It was found that on 28 May, 2012, Sarkar had written a letter to Debashish Sen, secretary of ministry of urban development, West Bengal, requesting him for an exemption from the ULCA for the portion of land.

The reason stated by Sarkar (in a letter to Sen) to give away the land was RCGC’s bid for the Indian Open and International events such as the Avantha Masters. ‘We need to start the work before the monsoon season sets in. It is our intention to put Calcutta back in the map of international sports within the tenure of this government. If we miss the present window, we shall have to wait another five years,’ his letter reads.

Sarkar said that the RCGC is in possession of 170 acres of land and out of that there is 5.98 acres of land for which permission is being sought for ULCA exemption. This land is under Arakpur Mouza in Jadavpur police station area in south Kolkata.

There are speculations that real estate developer Unitech Ltd is interested in bringing a super-luxury chain of hotels named Ritz Carlton at the same piece of land at RCGC. They are planning to acquire the land on lease to build the luxury hotel.

It was decided that the developer will develop approximately 6 lakh sq. ft. on the site, of which half will be for the hotel and the rest for serviced apartments. The 200-room hotel and serviced apartments will require an investment of Rs 500 crore, which is excluding the cost of the land.
RCGC was founded in 1829 and is the oldest golf club outside the British Isles and second-oldest club outside Scotland. King George V and Queen Mary conferred the title ‘Royal’ to the club to commemorate their visit to Calcutta in 1911.
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