In a major blow to West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, the Calcutta High Court today ruled in favour of Tata Motors, holding the Singur Act as unconstitutional and void. The Act empowered the West Bengal Government to reclaim nearly 1,000 acres at the abandoned Tata Motors factory in Singur and returning part of the 997-acre Nano plot to unwilling farmers.
Tata Motors was given 997 acres at Singur, when the Left was in power, to manufacture the world’s cheapest car Nano by acquiring land from 13,000 farmers, of which 2,000 refused to accept the compensation and demanded their 400 acres back. When Mamata was elected as chief minister last year, she passed a Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act 2011 which allowed her to recover the land under dispute and redistribute about 400 acres to farmers who were originally reluctant to part with their land for the Tata project.
At the time Tata Motors had said it was not possible to build a factory and ancillaries on 600 acres. Holding Trinamool Congress responsible for driving out the Nano project from Singur, Tata Motors had accused the state of trying to over-reach the judicial process and forcibly taking back the land, which was legitimately allotted to the company by the Left Front government.
A devision bench comprising c Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Justice Mrinal Kanti Chaudhuri, said the Singur Act has been held void as the President’s assent was not taken. The court has, however, given the West Bengal government two months to appeal in the Supreme Court.
Reacting to the news, shares of Tata Motors, surged 1.11 percent to trade at Rs 250.
Tata Motors had challenged the order of the single bench of the Calcutta High Court which had upheld the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011, by which the West Bengal government vested the land leased to the company at Singur, before the division bench of the Court.
Tata Motors had appealed against the order of Justice I P Mukerji, which was passed on September 28 last year.
Justice Mukerji had held the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act 2011 to be constitutional.
The court had, however, ordered on September 28 an unconditional stay of the judgement till November two to allow any aggrieved party to file an appeal, if it so desired.
Tata Motors had been leased 997 acre at Singur in Hooghly district, about 40 km from here, by the previous Left Front government for its Nano car project, billed as the cheapest car.
The Trinamool Congress, which was then the main opposition in West Bengal, had demanded return of 400 acre to farmers unwilling to give land for the project.
Tata Motors had moved to Sanand in Gujarat in 2008 citing law and order problems, but had kept possession of the leased land at Singur.
After coming to power in May 2011, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had the Singur Act passed in the Assembly as one of her government’s first major legislations.
With inputs from PTI