The Supreme Court on Friday sought response from the Tata Steel, the Jharkhand government and others on a petition seeking that a municipality be constituted for Jamshedpur. A bench led by chief justice Dipak Misra, while issuing notice to the state government and the Tata firm, said any decision taken by the state government in this regard would be subject to the outcome of the PIL filed by one Jawaharlal Sharma, who is seeking a direction for establishing a duly elected municipal body for Jamshedpur in accordance with the provisions contained in Part IX-A of the Constitution and for enforcement of the rights of the citizens under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.
The fact that Jamshedpur is being administered by a notified area committee (NAC) is unconstitutional in light of the 74th amendment to the Constitution, Sharma said. Counsel Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Sharma, argued that only small areas should be declared industrial townships, and given that Jamshedpur is the largest city in Jharkhand, declaring it a municipality would be logical.
He also pointed to a collusion between Tata Steel and the state government in successfully stalling establishment of a municipality, despite several steps being taken in that direction since 1967. “That respondent company has been thwarting every attempt to initiate self-governance in Jamshedpur and has been seeking to retain control over its private fiefdom by seeking conversion of the township to an industrial township under private control and governance of respondent company,” Sharma said in his petition.
Tata Steel had acquired 15,725 acre in Jamshedpur to set up a steel plant, which was allowed by the erstwhile Bihar government as a notified area under Section 388 of the Bihar and Orissa Municipal Act, 1922. The lease of Jamshedpur land has been renewed in favour of the Tata Steel till December 2025.
According to the petition, the mandate of the Constitution as per Article 243 Q under Part IX-A is that the municipality has to be constituted within a year of the 74th amendment of the Constitution coming into force, until and unless the state government decides to declare it as an industrial township.