New Delhi: The legal uncertainty surrounding Tata Motors Ltd’s small car factory at Singur intensified with the Supreme Court on Tuesday seeking explanations from the company, the West Bengal government, and the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation on the acquisition of agricultural land for the project.
Activists hope that the court’s decision to send notices to the three will bring out crucial details related to contracts and policy decisions taken to approve the project. “It is a good way to find out the forces at play when the project was approved,” said P.V. Rajagopal of Ekta Parishad, an activist group that campaigns for land and rural reforms.
Tata Motors spokesperson Debasis Ray refused to comment, saying the matter is sub judice. The direction by the bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan came following the hearing of a petition filed by Kedar Nath Yadav, a lawyer, and three similar petitions that challenged the acquisition of 997.11 acres of fertile farm land under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 for the project.
Yadav approached the Supreme Court after the Calcutta high court in January dismissed 11 pleas opposing the project, including his petition. Through an application filed on 9 April, Tata Motors had sought the court’s permission to be made party to the matter as it wanted to clarify the facts placed before the court by the petitioners. The application also stated that Tata Motors had spent Rs700 crore on the project and that the company was in possession of 645.67 acres of land as on 20 March.
On 15 April, the Supreme Court allowed the company to become a party to a petition and sought its response. On Tuesday, the bench said it would take up the matter when the court re-opens on 7 July.
Ravi Krishnan contributed to this story.