West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee yesterday said her government was committed to the cause of the farmers of Singur and hoped they would win.
Banerjee’s comment came in the wake of the Calcutta High Court’s verdict striking down as unconstitutional and void, the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011, by which the TMC government sought to scrap the land lease of Tata Motors and return the acquired lands to farmers and give them a better compensation and rehabilitation package.
“I do not want to comment on the court’s verdict. But we are committed to the cause of the farmers of Singur and will continue to stand by them. I believe, ultimately the farmers will win,” Banerjee said at the state assembly.
The division bench of Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Justice Mrinal Kanti Chaudhuri, declaring the Singur land act as void, said the sections of the act dealing with compensation were in conflict with the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. The judges also said the legislation had been enacted without obtaining the assent of the president.
Automobile giant Tata Motors had moved the division bench against the Calcutta High Court’s Justice IP Mukerji’s on September 28 ruling, which upheld the Act.
The court has suspended for two months its order to enable the West Bengal government to appeal before the Supreme Court, but has barred the state from disbursing reclaimed land in the interim period.
The Mamata Banerjee government passed the act soon after assuming office, and scrapped the land lease given to Tata Motors by the earlier Left Front regime to set up an automobile factory in Hooghly’s Singur.
The automobile major had to shift its Nano small car plant to Sanand in Gujarat from Singur in 2008 because of protests by farmers led by the TMC. The party sought the return of 400 acres taken from farmers, who were reportedly unwilling to part with their lands.
Reacting to the verdict, Leader of Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra said the government is paying the price for not heeding to the opposition’s plea to desist from making any discrimination between those farmers who were unwilling to part with the land and those who gave their land willingly.
Congress leader Abdul Mannan questioned Banerjee’s intent to give back the land to the farmers. “She never had the intention to give the land back to the farmers; it was only posturing on her behalf. Otherwise, she would not have hastily passed the law but would have taken time and help of experts to draft a comprehensive law,” said Mannan.