The Gujarat High Court cleared another hurdle for the state government and Tata Motors on Monday, as it dismissed a public interest litigation challenging the sanction of 1,100 acres of land for the Nano car project near Sanand. The high court has also upheld the procedure followed by the administration to sell plot to the company.
Earlier, the court had rejected applications by villagers demanding greater compensation for acquisition of their land by the state for allotment to Tata Motors Ltd.
While rejecting the contention of a purported NGO, Rashtriya Kisan Dal, that the sale of plot to the company is not in the interest of people of Gujarat, a division bench comprising chief justice K S Radhakrishnan and justice Akil Kureshi observed that the litigation "is not in public interest and intended only for media attention and publicity".
The state informed the court that Tata Motors has been exempted from stamp duty and registration charges, but no loan was advanced to the company for setting up the project.
The RKD and its chairman K H Thaker had last October urged the court to cancel the land deal, claiming that the government has incurred a loss of Rs1796.95 crore in order to benefit Tata Motors.
The appellants argued that the land was given to the Tatas at Rs14 lakh per acre, while the market rate is between Rs1 and 1.5 crore in the area Chharodi village. They accused the administration of bypassing all norms to benefit the industrial group, and requested the court to ask the government to place a copy of the memorandum of understanding on record, but the court didn't issue any direction in this regard.
Raising doubts on the locus standi of the petitioner in espousing the cause of farmers, the judges observed that few of agriculturists had objection to the deal and the court has already rejected their contention for compensation.
The court cited the Supreme Court's order that courts should interfere in a PIL only where there is injury to the public because of dereliction of constitutional obligations on the part of the government, and the courts should be very circumspect in conducting any inquiry in economic and policy matters. "The petitioner has not succeeded in establishing that the government's decision of selling land to Tatas has in any way violates any statutory rules or regulations," the court observed.
During the hearing, advocate general Kamal Trivedi told the court that the Nano project would generate large scale employment and revenue for the state.