Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: In a big setback for Tata Motors, the Supreme Court on Wednesday set aside Calcutta HC order upholding the land acquisition for Tata's Nano plant at Singur in West Bengal.
The Singur land was acquired by the Buddhadeb Bhattacharya government in 2006 to facilitate the Tatas to set up its its Nano car manufacturing plant.
Pronouncing its verdict, the apex court said, "Land acquisition collector has not properly conducted the inquiry into the complaints of cultivators with regard to acquisition of plots."
The apex court bench of Justice V. Gopal Gowda and Justice Arun Mishra also said that all those farmers who have taken the compensation in lieu of the acquisition need not return it as they have been deprived of their lands and its fruits for last 10 years.
The court also said those farmers who had not taken the compensation may withdraw it and that land be returned to the owners within 12 weeks.
The SC further added that the acquisition of land by the State for a company does not fall under the purview of public purpose.
Reacting on the verdict, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that it is a landmark victory.
She further said that the state government will hold strategy meeting tomorrow as to how to implement SC verdict. "We waited for ten years for this judgement. It is victory of the farmers", Banerjee added.
"Will work out a mechanism to return land to the farmers," she said.
In May this year, Justices Gopala Gowda and Arun Kumar Mishra had heard the pleas of the Tatas, the Bengal government and the aggrieved farmers of Singur and had reserved their judgement.
During the hearing, Justice Gowda had mentioned that agricultural land can be acquired for industry, but it is better to avoid use of mutli-crop producing land for such an activity.
The Tata group was given around a thousand acres by the state government in 2006 to build a car manufacturing factory, but in the wake of violent protests from the Trinamool Congress the project was shelved.
Soon after coming to power in 2011, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee passed a law to take over the land and forced the Tata`s to move their project out of the state to Gujarat`s Sanad district.
Tata Motors moved the Calcutta High Court challenging the law. The acquisition of the land was upheld by a trial court and the law passed by the Trinamool Congress-led state government was declared unconstitutional on appeal. Thereafter, the dispute moved to the Supreme Court.
With Agency Inputs