Posted On Saturday, June 23, 2012 at 08:59:14 AM
|File picture of Mamata Banerjee protesting near Tata Motors’ Singur plant site
In a huge setback to Mamata Banerjee, the Calcutta High Court on Friday ruled that the legislation introduced by her government to recover land leased to Tata Motors in Singur for its small car project was constitutionally invalid.
The land at Singur in West Bengal, which the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act 2011 sought to reclaim, was one of Banerjee's first major moves after she became chief minister last year.
The act empowered her government to take back 400 acres of land from Tata Motors for the Nano small car project. Atotal of 997 acres of land in Singur was leased to the Tatas by the erstwhile Left Front government for the Nano project, along with several vendors who were to set up ancillary units at the site.
While 645 acres were allotted to the company, the rest of the land was given to the vendors. The automobile major had to shift its plant to Sanand in Gujarat from Singur in 2008 because of protests by farmers led by the Trinamool Congress.
The party sought the return of 400 acres taken from farmers, who were reportedly unwilling to part with their lands. The Singur movement reversed the Trinamool's sliding electoral fortunes and it helped Banerjee sweep the 2011 assembly polls, ending three decades of Marxist rule.
Adivision bench comprising Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghosh and Mrinal Kanti Chaudhury, on an appeal by the automobile Tata Motors, observed that President's assent had not been taken for the Act and as such it was void and unconstitutional.
The implementation of the order was, however, stayed for two months by the division bench to allow the aggrieved party to appeal to the Supreme Court. The division bench set aside the order of Justice I P Mukerji who had held the Act to be constitutional on September 28, 2011.
Putting up a brave face, Banerjee said she would continue to fight for the cause of the farmers. The state has decided to appeal against the verdict in the Supreme Court. The spokesperson of Tata Motors, which has its head office at Bombay House in Fort, said, "Tata Motors will study the judgment of the Calcutta High Court."
The Singur Saga
In 2006, the erstwhile Left government leased 997 acres of land to Tata Motors for its Nano car project, along with several vendors who were to set up ancillary units at the site.
The automobile major had to shift its plant to Sanand in Gujarat in 2008 because of protests by farmers led by Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress. TMC wanted Tatas to return 400 acres taken from farmers, who were reportedly unwilling to part with their land.
The Singur movement helped Didi sweep 2011 assembly polls. Within a month of forming the government,Banerjee enacted the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, scrapping the land lease.
In September 2011, a singlebench judge held the act constitutional, prompting the firm to move the Calcutta High Court.