Tata Motors, India’s biggest automaker, today said it would move the Supreme Court against redistribution of the land earlier given to it for the Nano car factory in Singur, hours after the high court in Kolkata rejected its plea for an interim injunction to stop the West Bengal government from doing so.
“The company will agitate the matter before the Supreme Court,” it said in a late evening release. “When a matter is being heard at a court of law, the parties concerned, more so when the party is the state, should not alter the existing state of facts in the matter, and the undue haste being shown by the government is not conducive to upholding the rule of law,” it added.
The company today reiterated in the HC an appeal made on June 24 to the state’s advocate general, that the government not proceed with any action on the Singur plot in view of the ongoing hearing on its petition challenging The Singur Land Rehabilitation & Development Act.
“In response, the advocate general had said while it was not possible for him to respond right away, he would think of it over the weekend and communicate during the hearing today. However, even as Tata Motors awaited the communication, there were reports on Saturday (June 25) and Sunday (June 26), that the West Bengal government had taken further steps towards distribution of land out of the plot at Singur. The company had drawn the court’s attention to these reports,” Tata Motors said in the release.
Earlier in the day, the company’s counsel, Samaraditya Pal, had said the company was moving a fresh petition challenging the rules under the Singur Act and the government move to initiate distribution of land over the weekend. Pal’s plea stemmed from the apprehension that the physical distribution would begin from tomorrow and the original petition that challenged the Act would become ineffective.
The notification said there was a 30-day window for receiving applications, but Tata Motors’ counsel and former Kolkata mayor, Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, who is representing the “willing” farmers (the ones who were ready to give their land for the proposed project) noted there was no embargo on distribution of land.
Judge Saumitra Pal, however, did not pass an interim injunction, as the Tata petition had no specific statement that the process of returning land would start from tomorrow. Tata Motors immediately moved for an oral submission, but was asked to apply and serve a notice to the AG.
The Singur Act charges Tata Motors with non-commissioning of the plant and abandonment. The company has also claimed the Act takes away its rights to the land without providing for reasonable compensation, despite having invested Rs 1,800 crore in the plant.
The quick-paced events of the day was likely to pave the way for moving the matter before the Supreme Court, though Tata Motors refrained from commenting on it. In anticipation, the West Bengal government has already filed a caveat before the apex court so that Tata Motors’ petition was not taken up ex-parte.
Tata Motors’ urgency stemmed from statements from ministers in the state government over the weekend, saying that the main objective was to distribute land as soon as possible. West Bengal Commerce and Industry Minister Partha Chatterjee had said the government was finalising the land distribution process and would do it as soon as possible while the case was being heard in court. The move prompted Bhattacharya, the “willing” farmers’ counsel, to consider an independent writ petition against the intervention application.