There was high drama on Tuesday evening when it was announced that 12 “unwilling farmers” will receive the titles to land within the Tata Motors small car factory site at Singur by late evening as a start to the process of returning land in the area. The Hooghly district administration, however, asserted that no such move would be initiated on the day.
The clarification from the district authorities came shortly after Becharam Manna, a member of the high power committee that is overseeing the distribution of land at the Singur site, told The Hindu that “the process of return of land has begun.”
“Twelve farmers will be returned a total 3.84 acres of land today [Tuesday]. The area and quality of the land the farmers originally owned was kept in mind when the allocation was made,” Mr. Manna said, adding that they will receive the title deeds to their allotted plots by late evening.
When contacted later, District Magistrate S. Rengarajan said that the titles of land would not be handed over on Tuesday.
Survey work is on to identify and ascertain the status of the plots stated to belong to farmers, who were unwilling to part with their land.
The developments came in the wake of Tata Motors moving the Supreme Court praying for an injunction on the distribution of land by the State government. “Tata Motors has already filed a petition on this in the Supreme Court,” was the company's official response to the day's events.
Samaraditya Pal, counsel for Tata Motors had told the Calcutta High Court on Monday that the company was apprehensive that the process of returning land would begin in two days. However, his petition for an interim order for an injunction being granted immediately was refused by Justice Soumitra Pal, after which the company announced that it would be moving the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the hearing on the original petition filed by the company, challenging the constitutional validity of the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011, continued in the Calcutta High Court during the day.
The hearing was adjourned till Wednesday, when the petition in the Supreme Court will also be heard.
Counsel for the State concluded their submissions before Justice Pal during the day and argued that the petition should be dismissed as no prima facie case had been made by the petitioners
Anindya Mitra, the State's Advocate-General, and Shaktinath Mukherjee, counsel for the State, pointed out that the claim made by Tata Motors was for compensation and argued that an injunction cannot be given as “in respect to a money claim, there can be no injunction.”
Counsel for the State also argued that the claims made by Mr. Pal that the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011 was repugnant to the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 and that since the matter was under the concurrent list, the Central law should prevail, did not apply in this case.