‘Land should move back to the agriculturists’

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked Tata Motors to make its stand clear on its leasehold rights over the Singur land in the wake of changed scenario as the company had already moved its car plant out of West Bengal.

“The land was acquired for establishing a car manufacturing plant at Singur. Now, the purpose is no more there as you have already moved out. Now you cannot say that you still have interests in the land in question,” a bench of justices H L Dattu and Dipak Misra said.

The court said that the “land should move back to the agriculturists and we may ask the West Bengal government to file an affidavit on the issue of giving the money back to you which you had paid at the time of land acquisition. In the interests of justice, we think it will serve the purpose.”

Moreover, the court has the power to say that the purpose of this lease has got frustrated, the bench said, asking the automobile major to file an affidavit making its stand clear on its rights over the land in the changed scenario.

The court was hearing a special leave petition filed by the West Bengal government challenging the quashing of the Singur Land Acquisition Act by the Calcutta High Court.

The state government had moved the apex court against the high court order, which had struck down the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act 2011 that allowed it to reclaim the 400 acres of land given to Tata Motors.

The High Court had on June 22, last year, ruled that the legislation enacted by the West Bengal government to recover the land leased to Tata Motors in Singur for its Nano small car project was constitutionally invalid as the President’s assent had not been taken for the Act.

The High Court’s order had come on an appeal by Tata Motors Ltd against a decision of its single-judge bench which had held the Act to be constitutional.