High Court stays off polls but to hear GTA legality plea
Calcutta High Court on Friday refused to interfere in the ensuing Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Sabha elections, saying the polls would be held as scheduled on Sunday and there would be no bar on the publication of results.
Justice Moushumi Bhattacharya, however, said that the other parts of the plea that the GNLF had made before the court challenging the enactment of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Act, 2011, would be heard in detail.
The GNLF had filed two petitions — one seeking a stay on the polls and the other challenging the legality of the GTA. The GNLF has claimed that the GTA Act is invalid as it was enacted without amending an article in the Constitution.
Appearing for the GNLF, advocate Subir Sanyal had claimed that since the GTA Act was invalid and illegal, any elections based on it should be considered unlawful.
The lawyer had, however, argued that since the election process had already started, the court should issue an embargo on the publication of the poll results.
The state advocate-general had opposed the GNLF’s plea and prayed to the court not to stay the publication of the poll results.
In the interim order on Friday, the high court said it would not interfere in the election process, including the publication of results, and that it would progress as scheduled.
The judge held that the GNLF’s other plea regarding the enactment of the GTA Act without amending the Constitution was a constitutional issue and the court would hear the matter in detail.
The judge directed the Bengal government to file an affidavit stating its stand on the GNLF’s contentions regarding the legality of the GTA.
After the state files the affidavit, the GNLF is to submit a counter-affidavit.
The GNLF has decided to convene a central committee meeting in Darjeeling on Saturday to decide the course of action.
Neeraj Zimba, Darjeeling MLA and secretary-general of the GNLF, said they had pinned hopes on a favourable court verdict.
“We have very little time to go for an appeal. We will discuss our next course of action, which could include issuing a call to bypass the election,” said Zimba.
Additional reporting by Vivek Chhetri in Darjeeling