Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Singur Land Deal ‘Illegal’, says Supreme Court in Blow to Tata, Former Left Government // Singur verdict: 'Historic blunder' inflicts fatal wounds on a moribund Left Front

 In a major setback to Tata Motors, the Supreme Court on Wednesday quashed the acquisition of nearly 1,000 acres of land in Singur made by the then CPM-led government in 2006. The land was acquired a decade ago by the state government for the Tata Group to build its Nano car manufacturing factory. However, a little over a year later, after numerous protests by farmers and locals, the project was shifted to Gujarat, leaving the company and state government locked in a tussle over who should possess the land.

The Supreme Court, however, has put an end to the 10-year-ordeal. On Wednesday, it declared that the initial land acquisition was “illegal and void” and failed to meet “requirements under the Land Acquisition Act 1894”.

In doing so, the Supreme Court has not only set aside a previous judgement of the Calcutta high court, which upheld the land acquisition, but has also pointed out that the West Bengal government in 2006 “committed fraud of power in land allotment” by acquiring land for a private company and passing it off as a public good.

In remarks to the media, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee hailed the Supreme Court’s decision as a landmark victory. “I had dreamt of this SC verdict for so long, for the people of SIngur. Now I can die in peace. I would expect everyone to celebrate this as Singur Utsav, it’s like a n invocation of the celebration to Durja Puja, ” Banerkee said. According to the Supreme Court judgement, the land acquired will now have to be returned to the farmers and landowners within the next 12 weeks.

Singur verdict: 'Historic blunder' inflicts fatal wounds on a moribund Left Front
In the annals of Indian politics, the term 'historic blunder' is associated with Jyoti Basu, the CPM patriarch who accused Indian Marxists of committing the sin by not letting him become the Prime Minister by heading a coalition government in 1996.

But the term should equally apply to Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's decision to invite the Tatas for opening up a car manufacturing unit in Singur back in September 2006. It marked an inflection point in India's history and caused a cataclysmic chain of events that culminated in the once formidable Left Front being eventually reduced to a rump in the state, battling now to remain relevant.

Epochal in every sense, the Singur legal verdict announced by the Supreme Court on Wednesday — asking the state to return to the farmers the nearly 1000 acres of land and striking down the then Left Front government's acquisition as bad in law, intent and execution — is still little more than a reinforcement of the political verdict that was delivered in 2011 and fortified five years later in 2016....