New Delhi, April 19: The acquisition of Singur land for public purpose and then handing it over to Tata Motors for its Nano small car project was illegal and in breach of land acquisition law, the Supreme Court was told on Tuesday.
The Association for the Protection of Democratic Rights, which is seeking the restoration of Singur lands to the farmers from whom it was acquired, told the bench of Justice V. Gopala Gowda and Justice Arun Mishra that the land acquired for the public purposes could not be given to Tata Motors for the Nano small car project.
Telling the court that there was a separate procedure under the land acquisition law for acquiring land for a project of a private company, counsel Prashant Bhushan said that the land acquired by the government for public purposes could be given to a private company only for constructing dwelling units of the workers employed with it and no other purposes.
"In case of private company, the land can be acquired for building houses for workers but for government companies it can be for any other purposes also," he said, citing a 2011 apex court verdict backing his position.
At the outset of the hearing which lasted for about 20 minutes, the West Bengal government told the court that 997.11 acres of land was acquired in Singur in 2006, and though the then Left Front government acquired the land for public purposes but its stated object was Nano small car project of Tata Motors.
Telling the court that Tatas eventually abandoned the project and moved to Gujarat, the court was told that after acquiring the Singur land, the state government transferred it to West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation which in turn gave it to Tata Motors.
The court had commenced hearing on Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress West Bengal government's plea challenging the Calcutta High Court June 22, 2012 order holding unconstitutional its Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act to reclaim 400 acres given to Tata Motors for Nano car project.
The Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act was enacted by the Trinamool government to reclaim the land so that it could be returned to the farmers who had resisted the takeover of their lands and had not even accepted the compensation in lieu of that.
The hearing of the matter will continue on Thursday.