The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked Tata Motors to make its stand clear on the company's leasehold rights over the Singur land since it had already moved its car plant out of West Bengal.
"The land was acquired for establishing a car manufacturing plant at Singur. Now the purpose is no more there as you have already moved out. Now you cannot say that you still have the interests in the land in question," a bench of justices HL Dattu and Dipak Misra asked the counsel for Tata Motors.
The court further said the land should be given back to the agriculturists. "We may ask the West Bengal government to file an affidavit on the issue of giving the money back to you (Tata), which you had paid at the time of land acquisition. In the interests of justice, we think it will serve the purpose," the bench said.
It noted that a judicial order could even be passed to declare that the lease between the state and company got frustrated and directed the company to file an affidavit to make its stand clear on its rights over the land in the wake of changed scenario.
The court's observations came during the hearing of West Bengal government's appeal challenging the quashing of the Singur Land Acquisition Act by the Calcutta High Court. The state government had moved the apex court against the high court order, which had struck down the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act 2011 that allowed it to reclaim the 400 acres of land given to Tata Motors.
The high court had on June 22, last year, struck down the legislation enacted by the West Bengal government to recover the land leased to Tata Motors in Singur for its Nano small car project was constitutionally invalid as the President's assent had not been taken for the Act. The high court's order had come on an appeal by Tata Motors Ltd against a decision of its single-judge bench which had held the Act to be constitutional.