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Tata Motors has received a fresh setback in its efforts to restrain the West Bengal government from undertaking the process of returning land to the farmers at Singur.

On Monday, the Calcutta High Court rejected the company’s plea for a stay on the process of giving land back to the Singur farmers as envisaged by the Mamata Banerjee-led state government.

A single-judge bench, as also a division bench of the Court, rejected the plea to order a stay and abort the process of giving back the land to Singur farmers.

Tata Motor’s lawyer Samaraditya Pal first pleaded with the single-judge bench headed by Justice Soumitra Pal that an interim injunction be passed to restrain distribution of the land at Singur from Tuesday. But Justice Pal pointed out that if that plea was granted, the company’s original petition challenging the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011 would become infructuous.

The judge said the petition did not specifically mention that the land distribution would start on Tuesday.

And in the absence of a written complaint, no interim order was being passed, the judge said. Appearing for the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation, senior counsel Saktinath Mukherjee opposed the prayer claiming that it could not be done when the opposite party was present in the court and copies would have to be served to them.

The Tata Motors lawyer then moved the Division Bench of the High Court comprising Justice Pratap Kumar Roy and Abdul Gani, praying for an ex-parte order to restrain the state authorities from going ahead with its plan of land distribution. However, the bench ruled that no order could be passed on the basis of an oral complaint and the company would have to submit a written petition within Monday and a copy of it had to be served to the state attorney general Anidya Mitra.

Even as there has so far been no report of Tata Motors filing a written complaint with the division bench, sources indicate that it has kept all its options, including moving the Supreme Court open. “One can move a petition in the apex court even late in the evening,” a source pointed out.

Anticipating that Tata Motors might move the apex court, the West Bengal government on Monday obtained a caveat so that no ex-parte judgment without hearing the views of the state authorities, could be passed by the courts.

This apart, the state government has expedited the process of returning the land to the unwilling farmers by deploying officials at the Nano plant site and adjoining areas to scrutinise forms of the peasants, who had applied for return of their land

 


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