Hyderabad: HC returns 850 acres of land to govt after 21 year impasse

Hyderabad Desk

Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court on Thursday, February 7, upheld the decision to cancel the allotment of 850 acres of land at Gachibowli and Mamidipalli to IMG Academies Bharata Pvt Ltd, ending a 21-year-old impasse.

The court dismissed a 2006 writ petition filed by IMG Bharata chairman Ahobila Rao challenging the cancellation of land allotment and the annulment of a 2003 MoU with the previous government for developing sports facilities in Hyderabad.

As a result of this judgment, the state government is expected to take possession of the land on an urgent basis.

After the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Rao’s firm and the TDP government of united Andhra Pradesh in August 2003, a sale deed was executed in favor of the firm in February 2004.

The TDP-led state government had agreed to hand over a majority of sports stadiums in Hyderabad to the firm and pay substantial fees for annual maintenance.

However, when the Congress government came to power in May 2004, they discovered that Rao had no sports background, had registered his firm just four days before signing the MoU, and had no association with IMG Worldwide in Florida.

Subsequently, the Congress government under then chief minister YS Rajashekhar Reddy enacted the AP Govt Property (Preservation, Protection, and Resumption) Act in 2007, which led to the land being taken back and the MoU being cancelled.

The state government had asked for a CBI probe, but the central agency cited a lack of manpower to handle the case.

Rao then approached the High Court, leading to the land being locked in litigation. His counsel argued that once a sale deed was executed, the state could not take back the land and questioned the enactment of the 2007 Act inorder to target Rao.

In response, the court stated that there was no evidence to prove that Rao’s IMG Bharata was a subsidiary of the original IMG in Florida.

Additionally, the High Court affirmed that the state had the authority to enact a law even concerning a single individual.

“If there were more people who had committed similar frauds and the state was acting only against the petitioner, then he can point out discrimination. Here there is no such discrimination,” the bench said and upheld the validity of the 2007 Act which it stated served the public interest.

The court also heard a separate plea filed by Thanneru Sriranga Rao seeking a CBI investigation.

“Do you oppose the plea for a CBI probe? What is there for you to oppose?” the bench asked the state government and directed it to clarify its position by Monday.

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