Party fears state may misuse clause in GTA legislation
Darjeeling, Aug. 30: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has raised “serious” objections to some sections of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Bill three days ahead of it being tabled in the Assembly.
Section 64, which gives the state government the power to supersede the GTA Sabha (an elected body to administer the hills) if it is found to be incompetent or fails to perform, has riled the Morcha leadership the most.
“If in the opinion of the government, the GTA Sabha has shown its incompetence to perform, or has made default in the performance of the duties imposed on it by or under the Act or any other law or has exceeded or abused its powers…the government may supersede the GTA Sabha,” Section 64 reads.
The section also states that the GTA Sabha would have to be reconstituted within six months and a notice would have to be served to the body before being superseded so that it gets a chance to reply.
The DGHC, also constituted by a state act like the GTA, had a similar provision but the then hill leadership headed by the GNLF’s Subash Ghisingh had not objected to it.
Today, Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the spokesperson for the Morcha and the party’s Kalimpong MLA, said: “We are minutely looking into the provisions of the bill and have noted this particular provision (section 64). We have serious objections to it. The state government cannot treat us like the earlier political dispensation that headed the DGHC and we will definitely be raising our objections.”
Till late tonight Chhetri along with party general secretary Roshan Giri and Morcha MLAs were huddled together in a meeting in Calcutta to draft the party’s response to some of the provisions in the bill.
“We have objections to some other provisions in the bill as well, but I will not disclose them now,” Chhetri told the correspondence. “We shall be preparing our response to them.”
Constitutional law expert Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya said the state was within its legal rights to include such a provision in the bill.
“Like the DGCA, the GTA will be a local body. So under certain circumstances, the state government can supersede it,” Bhattacharya said.
“Similarly, the state can supersede any municipality as well in special cases.”
Some Morcha leaders in Darjeeling said they were “uneasy” with this provision as the government could misuse it if it suited its purpose and found that the GTA Sabha was charting a course not to its liking.
Many legal experts in the Darjeeling hills said the government could supersede the GTA Sabha even on corruption charges as the word “abused its powers” can be interpreted in many forms.
“Words like ‘incompetence’, ‘default in the performance of duties’, or ‘abused its powers’ can be interpreted in various forms by the government,” said a legal expert.Courtesy TheTelegraph.