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Calcutta High Court calls for report on pilferage at Singur site

Ananya Dutta

Tata Motors submits video footage of looting

KOLKATA: The Calcutta High Court on Thursday directed the Hooghly District Magistrate to submit a report on the alleged incidents of pilferage and loot at the site of the Tata Motors car factory (since relocated), after the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011 came into force.

 Justice Soumitra Pal asked the District Magistrate to submit the report by 11 a.m. Friday, when hearing on Tata Motor's petition challenging the constitutional validity of the Act 2011 will resume.

The report should mention about police deployment and maintenance of law and order, and whether pilferage or looting had taken place.

  Earlier in the day, Tata Motors submitted video footage of pilferage and looting which allegedly took place on Wednesday, after district authorities had put up a notification claiming possession of the land late on Tuesday evening.

Concern at assets safety

While Samaraditya Pal, counsel for Tata Motors, expressed concern at the safety of the company's assets at the factory site, Advocate-General Anindya Mitra assured the court that 591 police personnel had been maintaining vigil there.

Counsel said even if the Act were considered valid, the West Bengal government's approach to implementing it was unreasonable. No joint inventory had been taken of the assets, plant and machinery at the factory site. As a result, the question of compensation Tata Motors was entitled to could not be settled.

“Who is there to ensure that I am granted the compensation I am entitled to under this law?”

Counsel said the government's action in taking possession of the land “was disproportionate to what was required in the circumstances.”

Section 4 (3) of the Act conferred some discretion on the District Magistrate to take steps and use such force as might be necessary to take possession of the land, he said but questioned the justification for use of force in this situation.

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