Even as the Supreme Court reportedly sought a response from Tata Motors on a special leave petition filed by the West Bengal government on the constitutional validity of the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee welcomed the development as “a victory of Ma, Mati, Manus [the mother, the soil and the people]” here on Friday.
“It is a victory of the long struggle of the poor land-losers not only of Singur, but also of those in the entire country. It is a victory of my 26-day-long hunger strike, during which I was about to die,” Ms. Banerjee posted on her Facebook page after news came in that the Supreme Court had extended the stay on the verdict of the Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court that held the Act as “unconstitutional and void.”
The Division Bench granted a two-month stay on its order passed on June 22, 2012.
Ms. Banerjee told journalists that the movement of the people of Singur had led the way and resulted in the Centre bringing in a new law for land acquisition while the State government also prepared a new land policy.
“What we had said earlier, we are reiterating — land will not be taken away from farmers by force,” Ms. Banerjee said.
Ms. Banerjee said that the distribution of land to the unwilling farmers was pending “legal clarification.” Until then the State government would continue to pay a monthly allowance of Rs. 2,000 to the families of unwilling farmers and provide 4 kg of rice at Rs. 2 per kg, she said.
Ms. Banerjee said that she believed that justice must be given to the downtrodden. “This movement is not about spreading canards and lies or violence – it is about ensuring the legitimate rights of the people for a just cause,” she said.
The Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011 was enacted in June last year to provide for the taking over of the land acquired for the Tata Motors small car factory in Singur and return a portion of it to the “unwilling owners.”
Tata Motors challenged the constitutional validity of the Act in the Calcutta High Court. While the single Bench of Justice I. P. Mukerji upheld the Act, a Divisional Bench of Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Mrinal Kanti Chaudhuri in June this year, set aside the verdict of the single Bench.
The State government has filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court, challenging the verdict of the Division Bench.
Keywords: Singur land acquisition law