Despite state pardon, J’khand activists sent to jail, get bail

Deepu Sebastian Edmond :  IEChaibasa, Thu Nov 29 2012

Six activists of the Jharkhand statehood movement, who were sent to jail on Saturday by a Railway Magistrate in a 1991 case, were on Monday bailed out from the Chaibasa jail. Xavier Dias, John Barjo, Basudev Devgum, Moso Munda, Rajaram Tanti and Indu Lagur were released at 6.30 pm. Three of the nine accused in the case have died.

They were sent to jail despite a pardon granted by the state government in all cases originating out of the successful movement to carve out Jharkhand from Bihar.

State Home Secretary J B Tubid said this was because this particular case was out of the purview of the state government. “The (Union) Railway Ministry has to take a call in this. We had written to them a long time ago, asking for special consideration in cases relating to Jharkhand movement activists. There must be 20-25 such cases. There has been no response,” he said.

The case relates to a protest that was organised on March 15, 1991. Some workers of the Tata Iron and Steel Company had allegedly invaded upon the privacy of tribal women while celebrating Holi. “According to Ho tradition unless the village head priest Duri performs the Baa puja villagers under his jurisdiction cannot participate in similar festivals elsewhere. It’s a sacrilege,” wrote Xavier Dias in a widely-circulated note drafted before his arrest.

The accused, then members of the All Jharkhand Students’ Union, organised the tribals of the area for the protest. According to the complaint by the Chief Security Officer of the TISCO’s Noamundi plant, which formed the basis of the FIR, the protesters “snatched the keys from the sepoy”, pushed him and “removed the fish-plates” of the railway track used for transportation.

The protest invited charges under Indian Penal Code sections 147, 148, 342, 448 and 427, along with sections 126 and 127 of the Indian Railways Act.

All accused have been on bail since 1991. Meanwhile, three accused — Kandey Laguri, John Tiria and Jeno Chatar — passed away.

The arrests took place as the accused had not been attending court proceedings for over a year. In response, the court cancelled their bail bonds and sent notices warning attachment of property, forcing the six to surrender before it.


Maruti Suzuki pleads inability to pay Rs 1,200 cr more for Manesar plant land to farmers


NEW DELHIMaruti SuzukiBSE -0.29 % has pleaded inability to pay over Rs 1,200 crore by way of enhanced land acquisition dues for 600 acres it acquired for theManesar plant in 2002, and urged the Supreme Court to hear it before taking a call on the enhanced compensation amount for farmers.

Maruti had paid Rs 118.90 crore for 602.40 acres in 2008. The Punjab and Haryana High Court, in an order dated February 11, 2011, enhanced the compensation amount to Rs 37.40 lakh per acre from Rs 28.15 lakh per acre fixed by the reference court. The apexBSE 0.00 % court later fixed it at Rs 28.15 lakh in an interim order on August 10, 2011.

The cost of the 1994 acquisition was fixed at a uniform Rs 15 lakh per acre in an earlier high court judgement and later enhanced by the Supreme Court to Rs 20 lakh per hectare. In fixing Rs 37.40 lakh, the high court used a 12 per cent increase per annum formula from the 1994 acquisition.

The judgement entails an additional payment of Rs 1,200 crore by the company to Haryana State Industrial Development Corporation (HSIDC), which acquired the land and handed it over ‘raw’ to Maruti Suzuki.

Land was acquired in Manesar area in three phases. Land for Phase I was acquired in 1994. Phases II and III were acquired in 2002. Maruti’s case was first pleaded by senior counsel PS Patwalia and then Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

“It is a huge project, giving employment,” Patwalia said. “If Rs 1,000 crore has to be paid, some hard decisions will have to be taken,” he said. “There’s been violence and arson in the plant,” he said, hinting at the possibility of things becoming worse there.

The Manesar plant, which produces Maruti’s more popular models and their diesel variants, has been embroiled in a bitter labour unrest for some time now. Singhvi, intervening later, said the project exported a significant number of cars and “was an important project for Haryana”.

He contended that the project would become unviable as the costs would go awry. “Is it fair?” Patwalia argued that the cost of land acquired for the project was estimated at Rs 100 crore, now it was over Rs 1,000 crore.

Maruti, in its plea that the court agreed to hear, explained the delay in approaching the court by saying it had no cause to worry till April 2012 when HSIDC slapped a Rs 235-crore charge on it as additional compensation costs.

The company argued that 65 per cent should have been deducted towards development charges as the land was not developed at all, and the company had invested huge amounts to improve it and create infrastructure.

The high court, while enhancing the compensation, also did not take into account any contemporary evidence and instead banked on prior or subsequent evidence by way of sale deeds to arrive at the cost of the land, Maruti claimed.

It also claimed that the land acquired in Phase I was close to NH 8 and should be valued higher than Phase II and III and not the other way round.

A bench, comprising Justices GS Singhvi and KS Radhakrishnan, was initially reluctant to hear Maruti but later agreed, before taking a final call on the compensation to be paid to the farmers.

Justice Singhvi was very critical of Haryana for acquiring and divesting land on a no-profit basis. “If no profits are to be made, why should the state acquire it for private parties at all? A better way would be to earmark land for particular purposes in the master plan and allow private parties to negotiate directly with the landowners,” Justice Singhvi said.


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November 2012
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