The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Singur singes govt

Calcutta, Feb. 14: Trust the Bengal government to get its law wrong.

The high court has quashed the prohibitory orders in Singur and held that the district administration had “abused power” by not following rules.

“The court holds that the order imposing 144 CrPC to be an act of executive high-handedness as a consequence of which people’s right guaranteed by the Constitution has been restricted,” Justice Dipankar Dutta said.

The government did receive a breather before another bench which upheld the validity of the land “acquisition process” in response to the petition of a condom factory that falls within the area acquired for the Tata Motors plant.

But the ruling overturning the prohibitory order breathed fresh life into the Trinamul Congress, though Section 144 in Singur would have lapsed tonight in any case.

The latest round of Section 144 was clamped on Singur on February 4 — a day before the sub-divisional magistrate received a mandatory report from police on law and order.

The court termed the magistrate’s action “pre-determined and pre-judged”, adding that the official “abused his extraneous power”.

The petition, filed by members of the Save Farmland Committee, had raised several other issues such as the motive of the government. But the proceedings did not reach that far as the government order failed to meet the basic legal requirement.

Lawyers said the order does not mean that Section 144 cannot be imposed again in Singur. “But before clamping the order, the government will have to show a proper reason,” said advocate Arunava Ghosh.

Home secretary Prasad Ranjan Ray admitted there were “technical faults”. “We will impose Section 144 in Singur again if it is required.”

Mamata Banerjee termed the verdict a “a slap in the government’s face”. Some Left Front partners like the Forward Bloc, RSP and the CPI, too, lauded the court order.

Another bench, headed by Justice Jayanta Biswas, dismissed a petition moved by Sri Padmasagar Export Company, a condom manufacturing unit, challenging the legality of the land takeover.

But the court ruled that “the acquisition process is valid and in accordance with law”.

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