India's top court quashes land allotment to Tata Motors for Singur project

India's top court quashes land allotment to Tata Motors for Singur project

The controversial Nano project was eventually shifted to Gujarat in 2008 after protests by farmers and the Trinamool Congress currently ruling the eastern state of West Bengal. Photograph: (AFP)

New Delhi, India Aug 31, 2016, 06.21 PM (IST)
India's top court today quashed the allotment of land by the former CPI(M)-led state government in eastern state of West Bengal to automobile giant Tata Motors for their Nano project in 2006 ruling that proper procedures had not been followed while acquiring the land and that the acquisition was not valid anymore.  

The controversial car plant, was eventually shifted to western Gujarat state in 2008 after protests by farmers and the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress party that is presently ruling the state. 

The apex court bench of Justice V Gopal Gowda and Justice Arun Mishra further directed the state government to return the land to the farmers who had been fighting a protracted legal battle for the last 10 years and said that all those farmers who had been compensated in lieu of the acquisition need not return it as they had been deprived of their land and the benefits accruing from it since 10 long years. 

The court also said those farmers who had not taken the compensation could withdraw it and that land would be returned to the owners within 12 weeks.

While the judges agreed on the quashing of the acquisition and allowed farmers to retain the amount of compensation, they gave different reasons for why the acquisition should be scrapped. 
 
The court also said those farmers who had not taken the compensation could withdraw it and that land would be returned to the owners within 12 weeks.

The Hindu quoted Justice Gowda as saying that acquisition in favour of a company "cannot be fulfilled as a public purpose", and also that due procedures were not followed while acquiring the land in favour of the company.

Justice Mishra, however, held that while there was no "illegality" in the acquisition of land for the company since it would have led to employment,  "The need has come to an end . . . quash the entire acquisition process," as the project had shifted to Gujarat. 

"I'm exercising the power under Article 142 of the Constitution to quash the acquisition since the Nano car project has been shifted to Gujarat and the land is not being utilised for the purpose for which it was acquired."

But both judges agreed that the enquiry process that led to the notification for acquisition was not properly held. “Either do as per law or not at all,” the Hindu quoted the bench as having said.



(WION with inputs from agencies)

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

The apex court bench has asked the state government to return the land to the farmers who had been fighting a legal battle since 10 years

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