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Tata Motors proposes ‘workable solution' of Singur dispute

Staff Reporter

Company requests government for maintaining status quo in distribution of land

KOLKATA: On the third day of hearing in the Calcutta High Court on the petition filed by Tata Motors Ltd. challenging the Constitutional validity of the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act 2011, the company proposed that the status quo on distribution of land to unwilling farmers at the factory site in Singur be maintained in view of the ongoing hearing.

Concluding his submission before Justice Soumitra Pal on Friday afternoon, counsel for Tata Motors Samaraditya Pal said that initially he had made a prayer for restoration of status quo as on June 20. But with the government taking over the factory and with media reports suggesting that guidelines had been framed for distribution of the land, there was need for a “workable solution,” he added.

According to a statement issued by the company, in the light of media reports of distribution of land, Mr. Pal requested Advocate-General Anindya Mitra to agree to status quo as regards distribution of land being maintained in view of the ongoing hearing.

“In response, the Advocate-General said it was not possible for him to respond right away. He will think it over the weekend and communicate on Monday,” it added.

“Our senior advocate Samaraditya Pal will meet the Advocate-General. If something fructifies, we will inform the Court. If it does not we will proceed with the matter and resume our prayer for status quo,” Siddhartha Mitra, legal counsel for Tata Motors, told journalists. The hearing was adjourned till Monday morning.

During the day, Sripriya Rengarajan, District Magistrate of Hooghly, submitted a report on the law and order situation at the factory site as had been directed by Justice Pal on Thursday, following allegations by Tata Motors that incidents of pilferage and looting occurred after the government took possession of the site.

In his submission, Mr. Pal said that according to the Constitution if a law enacted by a State government on any matter mentioned in the concurrent list contradicted a Central law, the Parliamentary Law would prevail.

Comparing the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, and the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011, Mr. Pal pointed out two areas where the two laws are repugnant — on the question of compensation and on the return of land.

He also cited several cases claiming that the State Government was wrong in using police power for taking possession of the factory site.

Commencing his arguments during the day, Mr. Mitra quoted correspondence between the State Government and Tata Motors claiming that the company was “holding the land as ransom” for its demand for compensation. 

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