The contentious issue of whether the land in Singur was acquired for “public purpose” or for Tata Motors Ltd today saw two judges of a Supreme Court bench giving divergent views, with one saying the acquisition served public purpose and the other replying in the negative.
While Justice V Gopala Gowda observed that acquisition of land “for and at the instance of the company” was sought to be “disguised” as acquisition of land for public purpose, Justice Arun Mishra said when the government wants to attract investment and create job opportunities, such acquisition was permissible for public purpose.
Referring to the Land Acquisition Act, Justice Gowda said that acquisition of land was sought to be disguised for public purpose to “circumvent” the compliance with the mandatory provisions of the Act and such action by the state government was “grossly perverse and illegal”.
“In view of the aforesaid categorical findings recorded by me based on the materials on record, including cabinet memo, minutes of meetings between representatives of the state government and TML (Tata Motors Ltd) as well as the notifications issued under sections 4 and 6 of the LA Act, 1984, it is clear that the acquisition of lands in the instant case is for the Company (TML),” Justice Gowda said.
Disagreeing with his findings, Justice Mishra said as the state had treated the acquisition to be for a public purpose and the entire money was paid by the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC), “consequently by mere mention that the land was required for the small car project of TML would not make it an acquisition for a company under part VII (of the Act).”