Singur Land Acquisition Illegal: SC


New Delhi: In a major setback to the Tata Group, the Supreme Court has set aside the Calcutta High Court order upholding the land acquisition for Nano plant at Singur in West Bengal.

The land acquisition process has not been dealt with properly, the apex court said and ordered the acquired land to be returned to the cultivators within 12 weeks from today. The court said land acquisition collector has not properly conducted the inquiry into the complaints of cultivators with regard to acquisition of plots. The court also added that farmer’s who got compensation from the government will not return it because they were deprived of their livelihood for the last ten years.

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This landmark ruling comes five years after the West Bengal government filed an appeal against a Calcutta High Court order striking down the Singur Land Act – unless it is moved to a Constitution Bench as requested by the Tata group.

A quick run of events:

May18, 2006: Tata Motors announces Nano plant in Singur, West Bengal

July 18, 2006: Mamata sows paddy near Singur as a mark of protest

January 21, 2007: Tata Motors starts construction of small car plant in West Bengal

December 3, 2007: Mamata Banerjee announces indefinite hunger strike on Singur issue

December 19, 2007: Tata Motors announces launch of Nano (people’s car) at Delhi auto expo on January 10, 2008

December 28, 2007: Mamata Banerjee ends fast

January 18, 2008: Calcutta High Court upholds Singur land acquisition, says it is legal

February 15, 2008: Tatas announce first Nano to be rolled out of Singur by October

March 4, 2008: Tata Motors presents the Nano at the Geneva Motor Show

May 21, 2008: TMC wins majority in panchayat elections

August 24, 2008: Mamata Banerjee starts indefinite dharna at Singur

September 2, 2008: Tata Motors suspends work on Nano Plant at Singur

September 3: Gopal Krishna Gandhi plays mediator; state government, TMC agree to resolve issue

September 5, 2008: Bengal government and TMC start negotiations

September 7, 2008: Talks break down

October 3, 2008: Tata Motors decides to move out of Singur

October 7, 2008: Tata Motors announces new Nano Plant in Sanand, Gujarat

September 1, 2009: Ratan Tata raises the issue of compensation with the Bengal government

May 20, 2011: Mamata Banerjee sworn in as Bengal CM, announces first cabinet decision to return 400 acres to unwilling farmers

June 9, 2011: Passes an ordinance, takes over 997 acres citing non-performance by Tata Motors.

June 10, 2011: Bengal govt goes back on ordinance.

June 14, 2011: Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Bill, 2011 passed in the legislative assembly

June 22, 2011: Tata Motors moves Calcutta High Court challenging the Bill

June 29, 2011: Supreme Court directs Bengal govt not to distribute land at Singur till further order from Calcutta High Court

September 28, 2011: Single-bench Calcutta High Court (Justice I P Mukerji) upholds the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011

October 29, 2011: Tata Motors challenges the order of the Calcutta High Court

June 22, 2012: The Divison Bench of the Calcutta High Court strikes down the Bill

August 6, 2012: The West Bengal government moves the Supreme Court, challenging the Calcutta High Court order striking down the Singur Land Act

August 24, 2012: Supreme Court seeks response of Tata Motors on a special leave petition filed by the West Bengal government, challenging the rejection of the Singur Land Acquisition Act by the Calcutta High Court. A bench of H L Dattu and C K Prasad says the Calcutta High Court’s interim order would continue

July 10, 2013: SC asks Tata Motors to consider returning the land as the company had already moved its car plant out of Singur

Nov 12, 2013: Tata Motors tells SC, it wants to retain land in Singur for the Nano project

May 5, 2016: SC observes Left Front-led Bengal govt rushed through the land acquisition process