It seen as a victory in the growing class battle between the silicon valley mutli-millionaires racking up public property for private use.
Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist Vinod Khosla has lost an appeal to bar public access to a beach property under his name.
The story assumes significance on two fronts. It is an issue of public-rights access in a country whose constitution fiercely guards the right to private property. News organizations also peg it as a victory in the growing class disparity between the multi-millionaires of Silicon Valley and rest of the citizenry.
The idyllic beach, called Martin’s beach, has been the pride of surfers and beachgoers for more than a century. In 2008, Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla bought the property for USD 32.5 million, which included the road to Martins Beach.
The Washington Post states that the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT) graduate had cut off access to the beach with gates and by posting private security guards since 2009.
Several trespassing cases were also taken up with the law enforcement agencies. A series of legal battles have been going on since 2009 which were spear-headed by the Surfrider Foundation, the prosecutor in the case.
In 2014, a New York Times report stated that the Surfrider Foundation filed an appeal against Khosla for violating the Coastal Act of 1976 as he didn’t take up the required permissions from the State Government before barring access to the beach.
The Post even reported that the government attempted to gain access to the Martins Beach road for a sum of USD 300,000. Khosla asked for USD 30 million.
According to the Mercury News, Khosla ran another suit in 2016 where he stated that powerful state agencies were violating his rights as stipulated under the Constitution of the United States of America.
In what is a blow to Khosla, the court, in the case pertaining to Martin's beach access, has nullified his claim to block access to the beach. Khosla has also been directed by the court to pay USD 500,000 which will go towards legal fees meant for Surfriders Foundation.
The Post noted that Khosla can still appeal to the Supreme Court on the decision. He has not taken off the gates, nor has responded to the Post.Khosla's networth is estimated to be above USD 1.55 billion.