Kolkata: In a huge setback to Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the Calcutta High Court on Friday held the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011 as unconstitutional and void. Favouring Tata Motors' appeal against a trial court order upholding the Act, the High Court gave the West Bengal government two-months time to appeal before the Supreme Court.
The Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act was passed in 2011 when Mamata became the Chief Minister and the Act had validated the state government's land re-acquisition drive.
The act empowered the state government to reclaim 1,000 acres at the abandoned Tata Nano factory site in Singur.
The judgement read, "Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011 is unconstitutional and void. The act is primarily made out for land acquisition which is in direct conflict with the existing Land Acquisition Act of 1894. So if a state legislature wants to enact a land acquisition act of its own. It should take permission from the Centre and Presidential accent is necessary which the State did not take. Returning land to only a portion of farmers cannot be called public purpose."
In May 2006, the Left government leased plot to Tata for 99 years and subsequently, the Trinamool Congress demanded that land should be returned to farmers. Later in October 2008, Tatas decided to move the Nano plant out of West Bengal.
The Tata Group had challenged the verdict in the High Court in November 2011.
Tata Motors had been leased 997 acre at Singur in Hooghly district, about 40 km from Kolkata, by the then Left Front government for its Nano car project, billed as the cheapest car.
The Trinamool Congress, which was then the main opposition in West Bengal, had demanded return of 400 acre to farmers unwilling to give land for the project.
Tata Motors had moved to Sanand in Gujarat in 2008 citing law and order problems, but had kept possession of the leased land at Singur.