Tata Motors for status quo on Singur land (Lead)

June 24th, 2011 - 11:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, June 24 (IANS) The proceedings in the Singur land case before the Calcutta High Court were adjourned till Monday after the petitioner Tata Motors Ltd (TML) sought status quo over any distribution of the land, vested in the government, so long as the hearing continued.

Company counsel Samaraditya Pal, continuing his argument, told Justice Soumitra Pal that in the light of media reports that the process for distribution of land was on, a workable solution needed to be found on maintaining status quo.

So long as the hearing continued, no distribution of land be done to the farmers, he said, also requesting the court to expedite the hearing.

Asked by the judge whether he was open for discussions, Advocate General Anindya Mitra replied that the matter could not discussed in minutes and said he would look into the matter over the weekend and come back to the court Monday.

Earlier in the day, the Hooghly district administration submitted a report before the court stating the law and order situation and on the alleged pilfering of goods from the factory premises at Singur.

The report said as there was a complaint of theft of materials like tin rods and bricks, a large contingent of police personnel including several top officers were deployed at the premises and the situation was normal.

Hooghly District Magistrate Sripriya Rangarajan was present in the court to give the report in a sealed envelope.

On Thursday, Justice Pal had asked for a report on the maintenance of law and order and details of police deployment in the abandoned small car maker plant after the company counsel quoted media reports and presented photographs suggesting pilferage and looting of goods from the factory.

The court had Wednesday asked the government to maintain peace at the plant premises after the automobile maker moved a petition challenging the Singur land law, calling it “unconstitutional” and “illegal”.

Continuing his attack on the validity of the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, Pal said it was repugnant to the central act (the Land Acquisition Act, 1894). He cited several precedents as well as the central act to contend that land once acquired by the government under the central act, could not be returned to the owners, whether willing or unwilling.

Countering the plea, Mitra said the petition was not maintainable as the company has put up a false case and was thus not entitled to any relief.

He also justified the government action of evicting the petitioners saying the government believes in acting promptly to achieve the object, which the Act purports.

Mitra also accused TML of holding the land as ransom to get compensation.

He said the company had compelled the (then state) government to give it more incentives for setting up their factory. He further contended that the company continued to hold the land even after relocating to Gujarat in 2008 to seek compensation from the West Bengal government.

Mitra argued that the automaker possessed no right to hold the land because with their relocation, the lease stood terminated because the purpose of the lease - setting up of the factory - had failed.

The act, which came into force Tuesday, provides for scrapping the land lease given to the company by the erstwhile Left Front government for the small car Nano plant.

The law vested the land in the government, which evicted the automobile giant from the plant.

The state assembly June 14 passed the bill that was designed to meet the Trinamool Congress’s pre-poll promise of returning 400 acres land to the farmers from whom the Left administration allegedly took it against their will.

The case would come up for hearing Monday.

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