The Supreme Court on Wednesday quashed the CPI (M)-led West Bengal government’s acquisition of 997 acres of agricultural land for Tata Motors’ Nano car plant in Singur.
The court directed the State government to return the acquired land to the farmers within the next 12 weeks. It held that the farmers can retain the compensation paid to them by the State as they were “deprived” of 10 years’ income from the land.
The 204-page judgment, which serves as a political victory for the Mamata Banerjee government, said that though it is “completely understandable” for the government to acquire land to set up industrial units, the “brunt of development” should not be borne by the “weakest sections of society …, who have no means of raising a voice against the action of the mighty State government”.
A Bench of Justices V Gopala Gowda and Arun Mishra agreed for different reasons, in separate judgments, to quash the acquisition process and return the land to thousands of landowners, farmers, and cultivators, who have been fighting a legal battle in the courts for over 10 years.
“The acquisition of land of the landowners/cultivators in the instant case is declared as illegal and void… Restore the ownership of the lands to cultivators,” the Bench pronounced in a common order.