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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 December 2007, 17:56 GMT
Bachchan 'land scam' case dropped
By Ram Dutt Tripathi
BBC News, Lucknow

Amitabh Bachchan
The actor claimed that he was a farmer
A court in India has ordered that criminal and civil proceedings in a land dispute case against Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan be dropped.

Bachchan faced fraud charges after registering farm land in his name in Uttar Pradesh state.

But the high court in Lucknow now says charges should be withdrawn as he has abandoned his claim to the land.

Mr Bachchan said the land was being used for agriculture. He still faces similar charges in Maharashtra state.

'Big relief'

The actor registered the 90,000-square-foot plot from a village council in Barabanki in Uttar Pradesh state in his name in March 2006.

He said it was being used for farming and he should be treated as a farmer. Villagers protested, saying the actor was neither a farmer nor a resident of the area.

In June he was told by a court in Uttar Pradesh that his actions amounted to fraud. It ruled that he was an actor, not a farmer, and that registering the land was unlawful.

He was also accused of possessing forged land records.

Mr Bachchan's lawyer, Virendra Bhatia, said Tuesday's court ruling was a "big relief".

However some legal experts say the court exceeded its powers by allowing the star to escape charges.

The state government could still choose to appeal to the Supreme Court over the matter.

Second case

This latest judgment may also focus attention on another legal wrangle faced by Bachchan in Maharashtra state.

The case relates to land in Pune district which the actor purchased and which is said to belong to another farmer.

Bachchan is accused of having forged land ownership records in that case too.

He is widely considered to be India's greatest actor. In a career that spans over 40 years, he has acted in more than 140 films.

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