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Bengal agreeable to court’s proposal on Singur compensation

The West Bengal government Thursday reacted positively to the Calcutta High Court’s proposal of determining the guidelines for compensation to be given to automobile giant Tata Motors in the Singur land case. However, the company opposed the court’s move saying it did not have any such locus standi.


A day after Justice Indra Prasanna Mukherjee asked the government to spell out its stand on the proposal, Advocate General Anindya Mitra expressed willingness to provide compensation to the car maker under section 23 (Matters to be considered in determining compensation) and 24 (Matters to be neglected in determining compensation) of Land Acquisition Act, 1894.


Samaraditya Pal, counsel for Tata Motors, which has challenged the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act passed after the new Trinamool Congress government came to power, said the principles of compensation needs to be put in.


He said apart from tangibles like market value, main value, asset depreciation in Singur, intangibles like the company’s goodwill and trade mark also needed to be considered for determining compensation.


However, Pal said while compensation was the company’s fundamental right and could not be taken away, it had also challenged the constitutionality of the Singur act.


‘Somehow it seems that the compensation is the only issue involved… We have also challenged the constitutionality of the Act,’ he said.


Terming the Singur act as ambiguous, Pal argued the state had not specified any public purpose for taking back the land leased to the company for the Nano small car plant.


The Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act was passed by the West Bengal assembly June 14, scrapping the land lease given to Tata Motors by the previous Left Front government for the small car plant in Singur area of Hooghly district.


The act came into force June 21 and on the very next day, the automaker moved the high court challenging the legislation. The court declined the company’s plea to restrain the state government from re-distributing to farmers their land that was acquired for the car plant.


The company June 28 approached the Supreme Court against the ‘undue haste’ being shown by the government in returning the land after it was denied any interim relief by the high court.


The Supreme Court June 29 stayed the re-distribution of land acquired from farmers for the auto giant’s project till the final order on the matter by the high court.


The apex court also said it will not interfere in the decision, and directed the high court to dispose the case within a month.


In a sudden twist July 26, Justice Soumitra Pal recused himself from the case saying it would be improper for him to sit on judgement as he knew personally one of those named in the petition filed by Tata Motors. Justice Mukherjee was then appointed to hear the case afresh.

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