Supreme Court strikes down Left's Singur land deal
In a major set-back to Tata Motors, SC cancelled the CPI(M) government's 2006 land acquisition made for Tata Nano factory in Singur and asked the West Bengal Government to reclaim and distribute it to farmers within 12 weeks. SC ruled that the land acquisition was not made for "public purposes". West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee welcomed the decision and called it a 'landmark ruling'.
The then Left Front government led by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, had allotted around 1,000 acres to Tata Motors Ltd. to set up a Tata Nano factory. The compensation offered to the displaced farmers was inadequate considering the big promises made to them. The project was shelved, following protests against the land acquisition by opposition leader Mamata Banerjee who went on a 26-day long hunger strike.
Trinamool Congress which came to power in 2011, enacted a law on 14 June 2011 which allowed the government to reacquire the 1000 acres of farmland from the Tatas that was given to them in 2006, in order to return 400 acres to the farmers.
Tata Motors had challenged the 2011 law in Calcutta High Court. The acquisition was upheld by a trial court and the law passed was declared unconstitutional on appeal. On 31st Aug, SC set aside the High Court decision and ruled that the acquisition was bad in law on several grounds and the deal represented an "exercise of power by a private company."
Two sets of cases were filed, one by a legal activist Joydeep Mukherjee and the other, by Singur land-owners. The pleas of the Tatas, West Bengal government and farmers were heard by Justice Gopala Gowda and Justice Arun Kumar Mishra, while the special leave petitions were heard by SC. The ruling stated the farmers don't have to return the compensation received from the government.