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Friday, June 10, 2011

Return of Singur land by promulgating Ordinance unconstitutional.

West Bengal governor withholds consent to singur land ordinance

 Kolkata, June 10, 2011: Barely 24 hours after giving his consent to the land ordinance
allowing the state government to take back the Singur Nano factory
plot from the Tatas, West Bengal Governor MK Narayanan has withdrawn
his approval on Friday afternoon.

The letter stating his decision, as dramatic as the announcement of
the ordinance itself by chief  minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday
evening, landed on chief secretary Samar Ghosh's table between 3:30
and 4pm on Friday.

Raj Bhavan sources confirmed the delivery of the letter.
Bureaucrats in Writers' Buildings told the decision was indicated
by the Governor to the chief secretary Samar Ghosh when he was
summoned to Raj Bhavan at 1 pm on Friday.

Immediately after it arrived, the chief secretary passed on the letter
to the chief minister.  Though Mamata Banerjee did not mention the
change of mind of Raj Bhavan, she subtly signaled a change of mind of
her own at noon.

Senior bureaucrats could not recall any similar incident where any
Governor had to withhold his consent to an ordinance after according
it in the first place.

Perhaps to conceal the government's embarrassment, chief minister
Mamata Banerjee announced that  the date of the Assembly being
convened is bring brought forward to June 13, instead of June 24.

"We are not using the ordinance now. We have brought forward the date
of which  the  House  would meet. The amendment Bill is ready. It
would be the only issue that would be discussed that day," announced
Mamata Banerjee on Friday evening, about three hours after the
Governor's letter arrived.

"This  move  will  save us time as the ordinance would have to be
passed in the Assembly within  six months," argued Mamata. She made no
reference to the Governor's decision though.

Right from Friday morning controversy began circulating in different
sections of the bureaucracy  and politicians as to whether there was
any pressing urgency for an ordinance when the House would convene
only two weeks later.

Senior Parliamentarian and former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee
and former West Bengal  Assembly speaker H A Halim told the media that  the
ordinance was invalid.

Writers' Building  sources indicated the Governor was not amused
primarily on two counts. First,  the chief secretary was not consulted
before the ordinance file was sent to Raj Bhavan. Second, the file
allegedly claimed that the proposal was approved by the cabinet, while
in reality, what the cabinet meeting on May 20 approved was the
decision to return 400 acres of land from the 997.11-acre plot to the
'unwilling' farmers.

"The decision to return the land and the ordinance to tweak the law
are not the same," said a bureaucrat familiar with the development.

It was learnt that a team led by industry minister Partha Chatterjee
took the proposal to Raj Bhavan on Thursday evening.

With  Trinamool  Congress-Congress  alliance having 227 MLA in the
294-seat Assembly, passing an  amendment to the Land Acquisition Act
will be a cakewalk, but Friday's development won't leave a happy taste
in the tongue of the three week-old government.

 The Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s much publicized declaration that she would return 400 acres of Singur land to unwilling landowners by promulgating an Ordinance is far from truth. She cannot return the land knowing fully well that an Ordinance cannot be promulgated when Assembly is in session.
Leader of the Opposition Surya Kanta Misra pointed out that the Assembly was not prorogued and unless a Bill was adopted in the House the government could not take a vital decision on return of acquired land to original owners. Any move to return the land to so-called unwilling  owners by promulgating an Ordinance is unconstitutional, said former Speaker of the State Assembly Hasim Abdul Halim.   


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