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Singur land act held valid, Tata to get compensation

Wednesday September 28, 2011 07:00:33 PM, IANS

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Three victories for Mamata on golden Wednesday

For West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Wednesday turned out to be a golden day. Besides a thumping victory in her maiden assembly poll, she also witnessed the Singur Act passed by her government  »

Kolkata: On a day she recorded a thumping win in her maiden assembly contest, there were more cheers for West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee with the Calcutta High Court Wednesday rejecting Tata Motors' challenge to her government's Singur land act, saying the legislation was constitutional and valid.

Economists called it a landmark verdict, saying it would boost the anti-land acquisition movement in the country.

Delivering the judgment at a packed courtroom here, Justice Indra Prasanna Mukherjee held the action taken by the government under the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act as valid, saying: "The law under which the land was acquired envisages it be used for public purpose which means socio-economic development and generation of employment. The petitioners could do neither."

The court, however, said the administration showed "haste" in dispossessing the company from its factory premises following the notification of the Act.

Justice Mukherjee also held that the petitioner was entitled for compensation which shall be ascertained by the district judge of Hooghly as per the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. It shall be paid within six months from the day on the petitioner applies for compensation.

The court observed that the provision of the Singur Act dealing with compensation was "vague and uncertain" though there was an intention to pay it. As such the petitioner is entitled to compensation which shall be determined as per sections 23 and 24 of the Land Acquisition Act.

The Hooghly district magistrate and superintendent of police have been appointed special officers to supervise peaceful removal of belongings from the original Tata Nano plant premises within two months from Nov 2.

The judge stayed the order unconditionally till Nov 2 for the Durga Puja vacation and to give sufficient time to the parties to seek further legal redress.

To a query from the company's counsel Samaraditya Pal on whether re-distribution of land could start immediately as the petition has been disposed off, the judge clarified that there would be a stay on all actions under the act till Nov 2.

Hailing the verdict, Banerjee said: "It's the victory of the people. It is a historic event not only for Singur or the country but for the whole world. The Singur movement will forever be an example of struggle and victory for the world."

It was a golden Wednesday for Banerjee, who registered an awesome 54,000 plus win over her nearest rival Nandini Mukhopadhyay of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) in the Bhowanipore assembly bypoll in her first-ever effort to enter the state legislature. Her party also snatched the Basirhat (Uttar) seat from the CPI-M.

She also said the verdict has paved the way for returning the land to the farmers for which the formalities have been completed. The remaining around 600 acres will be used for setting up industrial units.

Meanwhile, the automobile company said it would decide its next course of action after studying the Calcutta High Court judgment

The CPI-M said the final word is yet to come on the issue. "The Tatas still have an opportunity to go to a division bench and Supreme Court. We have to wait and watch," said the party's state secretariat member Rabin Deb.

Reacting to the judgment, economics professor Bipul Malakar said: "It is an eye opener for both civil society, the government and the corporates. This verdict it will boost the anti-land acquisition movement. The government and the corporates will have to do more for ensuring greater compensation to those losing their land."

The automobile major shifted the Nano plant to Gujarat from Singur in 2008, succumbing to protests by farmers led by the Trinamool Congress that sought the return of 400 acres taken from farmers reportedly unwilling to part with their land.

The Singur movement reversed the Trinamool's sliding electoral fortunes and it went from strength to strength over the next three years to unseat the Left Front from power.

Within a month of forming the government in May, Banerjee enacted the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, scrapping the land lease given to Tata Motors by the Left Front regime for the small car plant. However, the matter got locked in legal battles stretching from the Calcutta High Court to the Supreme Court.




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