The petition comes at a time when the much touted “peace” in the Darjeeling hills appears tenuous

The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday admitted a petition filed by Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) president Subhas Ghising challenging the constitutional validity of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) Act. Justice Dipankar Datta heard the matter and directed the State government to file a reply within three weeks, said Arunava Ghosh, Mr. Ghising’s lawyer.

Mr. Ghising, who spearheaded the agitation for a separate State in the Darjeeling hills in the 1980s, has served as chairman of the now defunct Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC). He was forced out of the Darjeeling hills in 2008 after the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha wrested political control of the hills from the GNLF.

According to Mr. Ghosh, the DGHC, set up by the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council Act, 1988 was exempt from the operations of the Panchayat Acts and the Municipal laws under Article 243 M(3) and Article 243 ZC(2) of the Constitution.

DGHC ceases to exist

However, the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Act has repealed the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council Act 1988 and the dismantled the DGHC ceases to exist.

Thus the entire region will come under the purview of the panchayat and municipal laws, Mr. Ghosh said.

The petition may affect the future of the GTA and comes at a time when the much touted “peace” that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claims to have restored in the Darjeeling hills appears tenuous.

The GJM has rejected the Justice (retired) Shyamal Sen Committee’s recommendations on inclusion of territories in the Dooars and Terrai region within the proposed GTA.

Agitation

The GJM leadership had announced a phased-out agitation against the recommendations, and has set up a fact-verification committee that will look into the factual aspects of the report submitted by Justice Sen.