Supreme Court of India asks Calcutta High Court to decide pleas on Gorkhaland law, agreement

NEW DELHI (INDIA): The Supreme Court of India SCI) today asked the Calcutta High Court to expeditiously decide the pleas relating to the constitutional validity of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Act and an agreement promising transfer of powers from West Bengal government to the local authority.

The apex court also remanded to the High Court the pending plea of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) seeking implementation of the GTA Act and the 2011 tripartite memorandum of agreement (MoA) on transfer of powers.

“If the High Court says that the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Act is unconstitutional and it does not survive there, then the whole exercise here (in the Supreme Court) will be totally futile,” a bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul said.

The order to remand back the plea of GTA came after the apex court perused the orders passed by the High Court in various petitions challenging the validity of the GTA Act and the MoA.

“We are informed that the vires/constitutional validity of the GTA Act and the MoA have been assailed before the Calcutta High Court…

“Having given our thoughtful consideration, we are of the view that firstly, the issue of validity of the GTA Act and the notification are needed to be determined and only after that the implementation of the Act and MoA can be dealt with,” the bench said and directed the High Court to decide the petitions as “expeditiously as possible”.

The apex court, on April 18, had asked the West Bengal government to file on record the orders passed by the High Court in matters challenging the constitutional validity of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Act.

Senior advocate P P Rao, appearing for GTA, had said it was an elected body and the state government was not holding even the civic polls in the areas falling under it.

Prior to this, GTA had moved the top court seeking implementation of the Act and MoA.

GTA has challenged the West Bengal government’s refusal to transfer administrative power and various subjects to it, in spite of a tripartite agreement that was reached between the Gorkha agitators, the state and the Centre in 2011.

The apex court had agreed to hear the plea and asked the GTA to place on record the notification issued by the West Bengal government in 2011 in which it had promised transfer of powers through the MoA arrived at in the tripartite meeting.

The MoA for the creation of GTA was signed on July 18, 2011 at Pintail Village near Siliguri in the presence of then Home Minister P Chidambaram, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders.

Recently, the GTA moved the High Court against the state government and Election Commission for alleged delay in holding of elections to four municipalities in Darjeeling hills.

The five-year term for Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Mirik municipalities had come to an end in December last year.

Source: Press Trust of India