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10 Mar 2017

GTA in court on civic poll delay

Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, March 9: The GTA has moved Calcutta High Court against the state government and state election commission for the delay in holding elections to four hill municipalities.
At a time the ruling establishment in Bengal is trying to make its presence felt in the hills, the legal challenge in the court for appointing administrators to run the civic bodies and delaying elections is significant.
The government appointed administrators to run Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Mirik municipalities after the five year term of the respective boards had ended in December.
P.T. Ola, the GTA executive sabha member in charge of municipal affairs and urban development department, today said: "The GTA has filed a writ petition against the state government and the state election commissioner, challenging their decision not to hold elections to four hill municipalities without citing any reason. The decision goes against the spirit of democracy."
While Ola said the writ petition had been admitted by the court, high court sources said the maintainability of the case would be decided on March 15 when the matter would come up for hearing.
According to the GTA Sabha member, elections should have been held at anytime during the final six months of the boards' tenure.
"They started some process, like publishing the roster (basically notifying reservations in wards), but ultimately elections were not held. The government instead appointed administrators," said Ola.
Ola said since the GTA had supervisory powers over municipalities, the hill body should have been informed of all decisions. "Soon after the terms of the civic bodies had ended, the GTA wrote to the additional chief secretary and the state election commission seeking reason for not holding elections. We didn't, however, receive any reply," said Ola.
Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the Morcha, today said: "The state government's delay in holding civic polls in the hills is a murder of democracy. By appointing administrators to run the municipalities, the government is actually working towards increasing the Trinamul Congress's support base in the hills."

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