The Calcutta High Court’s judgment striking down the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act — enacted by the West Bengal government to return the land acquired for the Tata Motors’ small car factory to “unwilling farmers” — as unconstitutional should not be seen as a victory or loss for any political party or ideology. The fact of the matter is, like many other laws, the Land Acquisition Act is antiquated and a colonial vestige. Our lawmakers have failed to pass laws reflecting the aspirations and needs of a vast majority. How does one explain the fact that the Land Acquisition Bill has been hanging fire while laws favouring the corporate domination of ordinary lives are being passed in spite of the so-called policy paralysis?
The verdict is a huge setback to the Maa Maati Manush government. Singur was where Mamata Banerjee’s campaign to unseat the Left caught fire. Although she is a great crusader, Ms. Banerjee is on a sticky wicket as Chief Minister.
In Measure for Measure, Shakespeare said: “It is excellent to have a giant’s strength, but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant.” The Singur Act was enacted with the rider “unwilling farmers.” If, on a stretch of land, one farmer is “unwilling,” can the government return his plot? Applicability should be taken into account while enacting a law.
T. Anand Raj,