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Supreme Court quashes Singur Tata plant land acquisition

  • The Supreme Court on Wednesday quashed the acquisition of 1000 acres of land in Singur by West Bengal’s Left Front government in 2006 for Tata’s Nano project concluding that it was “illegal” and proceeded ahead in “violation of law”.

    The court was hearing a bunch of petitions filed by Civil rights organizations, several of them backed by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. They had moved the apex court challenging the quashing of Singur Land Acquisition Act brought in by the Mamata government by the Calcutta high court. Mamata government also became a petitioner later challenging quashing of the Act.

     A bench of justice V Gopala Gowda and justice Arun Mishra while pronouncing the judgment ordered that the land be given back to farmers in 12 weeks. Though the Judges agreed on conclusion, differed on the question whether the land acquisition was for public purpose or not. Justice Gowda, held that the acquisition of land by taking it away from the farmers cultivating it cannot be said as a “public purpose”, but Justice Mishra held that the acquisition was ultimately for the public purpose.

    The bench ruled that the farmers who got compensation from the government need not have to return it because “they were deprived of their livelihood for the last 10 years”.

    Within two years of getting the land, that is in 2008, Tata had moved the operations to Gujarat following violent protests by Mamata Banerjee’s TMC.

    “Land acquisition collector has not properly conducted the inquiry into the complaints of cultivators with regard to acquisition of plots”, the bench said and added that the “acquisition of land by the State for a company does not fall under the purview of public purpose”

     The bench had earlier on May 5 reserved the order in the case questioning the manner in which the land was allotted to Tata Motors “without adhering to the section 4 and 5 of the Land Acquisition Act which mandate public notice for receiving objections.

    SC had repeatedly told senior lawyers who had appeared for the company “You cannot argue that they (farmers) have accepted the award so they cannot challenge the acquisition. This case is under different footing and there are several issues which needs to be answered.”
     

    OUR TAKE

    This is a pro – people judgement and a huge win for Mamta Banerjee and her party.  Land acquisition has always remained a controversial topic.Caught in between a government and crony capitalism are poor farmers whose land and livelihood are jeopardized in these arrangements. Singur land acquisition quoted controversy since its inception because of carelessness on the part of the company and state government. 

     


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