Tatas move SC over Singur land distribution

Written by Indu Bhan | Indu Bhan | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 29 2011, 06:51am hrs
Tata Motors filed a petition in the Supreme Court on Tuesday seeking a stay on the West Bengal government's move to return to farmers a piece of land at Singur. The land was earlier allocated to the company to set up its now-aborted Nano car factory.

A vacation Bench posted the petition for hearing on Wednesday after counsel Gopal Jain sought a direction to the state government not to create third party interest in the land.

Tata Motors, India's largest auto maker by sales, has challenged the Calcutta High Court's interim order that refused to stay the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011, enacted by the West Bengal government to take over 997.17 acre land allotted to build a facility to manufacture the world's cheapest passenger car.

The plan to build the facility in Singur was abandoned in October 2008 following violent protests by farmer groups over acquisition of farmland, and the project was later shifted to Gujarat.

According to Tata Motors, it was prevented from setting up and making fully operational the plant at Singur due to an agitation launched by the political parties, including the Trinamool Congress, which is in power in the state and was instrumental in passing the impugned legislation.

Alleging looting and pilferaging of the company's valuable assets, including plant machinery, at the site, the petition filed through Karanjawala & Co stated that the state had taken forcible possession of the project land where the company had made an investment of over R1,800 crore. ...the state police trespassed into the factory and converted it into a police barrack, it stated.

Requesting the court to restore possession of the land, Tatas said that since the impugned Act was unconstitutional, any subsequent steps, including taking possession of land, would be illegal.

The petition said that the Tatas were in peaceful, undisturbed and continuous possession of the land for four years after the acquisition process was completed and that the company had been paying around R 1 crore per annum as lease charges to the state.