The high court here will decide the winner in the first round of court battle between Tata Motors and the West Bengal government in the Singur land case tomorrow.
Though the verdict, slated to be announced in the morning, will mark the end of a case being fought over the last three months, the battle dates back to the middle of 2006, when Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, now West Bengal’s chief minister, started agitating against Tatas’ global small car project, the Nano, at Singur.
Banerjee has been fighting for the “unwilling” farmers of Singur and their demand for return of 400 acres. But that may still be a long way off.
Tomorrow’s verdict is in the case filed by Tata Motors challenging the Singur Act, that revoked the lease agreement for 997 acres. There are, however, two other stakeholders, the vendors, who had 290 acres of the 997 acres and the “willing” farmers, who had accepted the compensation for the land.
“Our case will be heard after this verdict,” a vendor said. It is the same with the “willing” farmers. Both parties are challenging the Act on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. Moreover, any of the interested parties—Tata Motors, the West Bengal government and the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation—unhappy with tomorrow’s verdict is likely to go for an appeal.
Though the judgement is anybody’s guess, judge I P Mukherjee had said during the hearing that he would like to lay guidelines for compensation to Tata Motors, which is left vague in the Singur Act.
The West Bengal government had, however, said that it was willing to compensate Tata Motors, but would not factor in the leasehold value, as the land ownership was with the WBIDC.
Though Tata Motors’ sunk cost ranged between Rs 440 crore and Rs 1,400 crore, compensation was not the only issue for the company. The company is challenging the Act.