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HC allows Ghisingh GTA plea - Affidavit order for govts & Morcha

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  • Published 20.06.12

Calcutta, June 19: Calcutta High Court today admitted the case moved by Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) leader Subash Ghisingh who has challenged the legality of the government’s move to set up the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA).

Justice Dipankar Dutta told the three signatories to the GTA agreement — the Centre, the state government and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha — to file affidavits stating their stand on Ghisingh’s contention.

“All three parties would have to file affidavits in two weeks’ time,” Justice Dutta said. “After that, the petitioner (Ghisingh) would reply to their affidavits in another week’s time. After that, the hearing will resume on July 20.”

Ghisingh’s counsel Arunava Ghosh said his client’s contention was that after the DGHC Act was passed in 1988, the Constitution was amended in order to make the panchayat structure two-tiered in the DGHC areas of Darjeeling district.

This was done to remove the zilla parishad, the highest tier in the panchayat structure, so that its authority did not clash with the DGHC. This amendment was carried out in 1993, the counsel said.

However, the GTA Act passed last year made the panchayat structure a three-tier one. But no constitutional amendment was brought on this, he said.

Ghosh argument that the Darjeeling hills would continue to have a two-tiered panchayat structure while the GTA Act in the absence of an amendment, even though the GTA states that once the new hill body comes into existence, the panchayat structure will become three-tier.

“Since a state act cannot supersede or override the Constitution, so the Constitutional amendment made in 1993 continues to prevail till such time as another amendment is brought,” Ghosh said.

“This is why our stand is that the new GTA Act is unconstitutional and therefore invalid.”

Ghosh prayed today that the GTA Act should be set aside the and that till the disposal of Ghisingh’s case, the court should pass an interim order restraining the government from giving effect to the act.

Ghisingh’s counsel also pleaded that till the case is not , the court should order that the DGHC be allowed to continue.

As soon as the court began its hearing today, government pleader Ashok Banerjee requested the court not to hear the case today as it was “unprepared” and needed more time to study the petition. However, Justice Dutta said that it was giving the government two weeks’ time to submit its affidavit.

“I am not going to listen to your submission today. So you have enough time to prepare yourself,” the judge said.

Advocate Sanjay Bakshi appeared on behalf of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and said that his client had received a copy of the petition only last night. “It is not possible for us to make our submission overnight,” Bakshi told the court. “Please give us more time.”

Justice Dutta repeated what he had told the state government and said that they had two weeks to file their affidavit.

There was no lawyer in court to represent the Centre. Justice Dutta told the court officials to communicate to the central government that they, too, would have to submit their affidavit in two weeks’ time. The state government hopes to conduct the elections to the GTA in July.