In case, the present Act is struck down by the Supreme Court, says a senior Cabinet member

The Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal is considering the possibility of framing a new law to return land to unwilling farmers in Singur, if the present Act is struck down by the Supreme Court, a senior member of her Cabinet said.

Addressing a gathering at Singur to mark the death of Tapasi Mallik, Labour Minister Purnendu Bose said: “If it is seen that the existing law formulated by the government to return land to the ‘unwilling’ farmers at Singur is not acceptable to the apex court… then a new law may be framed.”

“Mamata Banerjee will surely introduce a new law in the Assembly — making amendments wherever necessary,” he said, emphasising that land would be returned to the Singur farmers.

Martyr’s day

At the height of the Singur land agitation, teenager Tapasi Mallik was found charred to death at a paddy field near her house. She was found to have been violated and then set afire.

The Trinamool, which said that she was a party supporter, observes her death anniversary as a martyr’s day at Singur.

The Minister’s statement came on a day when another leader of the Singur land movement Becharam Manna, now a Minister in Ms. Banerjee’s Cabinet had to make an appearance before the Calcutta High Court following adverse remarks he made at Singur last month.

However, he too had hinted that should the Supreme Court strike down the law on Singur, the people would write a new one.

Within a month of Ms. Banerjee’s government coming to power, the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011 was passed to enable the return of a portion of the land acquired for the setting up of the Tata Motors small car factory to “unwilling farmers.”

A week later, Tata Motors moved the Calcutta High Court against the Act challenging its constitutional validity.

In September 2011, Justice I.P. Mukerji held that the Act “is constitutional and valid,” but the company appealed against the Court’s order.

Matter now in SC

In June this year, a Division Bench of Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Mrinal Kanti Chaudhuri set aside the order of the Single Bench holding the Act to be “unconstitutional and void.”

The State government then went to the apex court where the case is pending.