Kolkata: In a setback for West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the Calcutta High Court on Friday declared null and void the controversial Singur Land Act of 2011. The law was enacted to reacquire land initially allotted to Tata Motors for the Nano project.
However, despite the setback, Banerjee says she is committed to returning land to the farmers.
There seems no end to the woes of the Trinamool Congress chief. First a public political humiliation with regard to the President's election, and now a judicial setback raising questions about her style of governance.
A division bench of the Calcutta High Court has struck down the law by which her government reacquired land allotted to Tata Motors in Singur and intended to return parts of it to farmers who resisted the land grab by the previous Left government.
The court categorically stated that the Singur Land Act, 2011 is "Unconstitutional and void as it is in conflict with the existing Land Acquisition Act, 1894. The government did not have Presidential assent to override existing central law. And returning land only to a section of those who lost land, cannot be called public purpose."
"In the Act they wanted to say that the return of land being a public purpose it cannot be interfered upon by the honourable court. The honourable court was in one with our argument that this is not for any public purpose," said Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, Counsel for Land Owners.
The court has given the government two months time to challenge the judgment before the Supreme Court.
Banerjee remains resolute. On Facebook she wrote, "Our commitment to be with them, will remain, whether I am in power or not. I will continue to fight for this cause. Finally, the people's choice in democracy will prevail."
Government's Counsel Kalyan Banerjee said, "The state would prefer an appeal before the Supreme Court. Single bench, we won, division bench, they won. One is to one. Now let us see the final game."
Caught in the tussle are the farmers of Singur, on whose shoulders stood Banerjee's battle against the Left. They still don't know if and when they would get their land back.
Interpreting the landmark judgment, some are of the opinion that this was a direct snub on the amateurish manner in with the Mamata Banerjee government passed the Singur Act. The political setback of Banerjee aside, it is so-called unwilling farmers of Singur who continue to remain high and dry.