Calcutta HC strikes down Mamata’s Singur law
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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's bid to return land taken from farmers in Singur suffered a severe setback after a division bench of Calcutta High Court struck down a land law enacted by her government soon after coming to power last year.
Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Justice Mrinal Kanti Chaudhury declared the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011, "unconstitutional and invalid". In a dramatic three-and-a-half-minute reading of the verdict's operative part to a packed courtroom, Justice Ghose said that presidential assent was not sought for the Act — a necessary requirement to change a law on a matter on the concurrent list.
The bench set aside the order passed by single judge I P Mukerji on September 28 last year, upholding the Act.
The bench readily conceded the plea by government counsel to allow them two months instead of one to appeal to the Supreme Court. "My heart is with you, but I am sorry I could not do anything for you," Justice Ghose — who incidentally takes charge as Acting Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court on Monday — said smiling.
In a Facebook post, the chief minister said she would "continue to fight". "I don't want to comment on the court's verdict. Our commitment to be with the farmers will remain, whether I am in power or not. I will continue to fight for this cause. Finally, the people's choice in democracy will prevail," Mamata wrote.
Trinamool MP and government counsel Kalyan Banerjee said that the judgment was not "legally sustainable" and announced the state would appeal. "The scoreline is now one-one," Banerjee said. "The verdict of the single bench has gone in favour of the state and this one against. The Singur land is in the state's possession and the status quo remains."
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