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24 Jun 2017

SP told to paste order on Morcha office

The GNLF takes out a march at Chowk Bazaar in Darjeeling on Friday. Picture by Passang Yolmo
TT, Calcutta, June 23: The high court today asked Darjeeling police chief to paste the copies of its previous order - asking the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to pay up for the damage caused by a bandh in 2013 - and a public interest litigation on the matter on the walls of either the party's office or the residences its leaders by June 29.
A division bench headed by acting Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre also ordered the police to videograph the process and produce the footage before it on June 30 when the PIL would come up for hearing again.
The court's order followed submissions by the petitioner as well as the advocate general that since postal and Internet services were defunct in the hills because of the ongoing strike, the documents relating to the case could not be served on the Morcha.
In response to an earlier order of the court, the state home secretary today filed an "informal" report on the extent of the damage to government properties during the current bandh. Since the report was incomplete, the bench asked the official to submit an updated report during the next hearing.
Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty was the other member of the bench that was hearing the PILs moved by advocates Ramaprasad Sarkar and Sanjib Dawn. The PIL sought a directive to realise Rs 69 crore from the Morcha for damaging government properties during a bandh in the hills in August 2013.
The order to the Morcha to pay up the amount was also issued in 2013.
The June 16 order related to the implementation of the 2013 directive.
Sarkar told the court that to carry out the June 16 order of the division bench, he had tried to serve copies on the lawyers who generally appear before the court on behalf of the Morcha and its president Bimal Gurung in other cases. Since the lawyers refused to accept the copies, he had sent the documents through speed post.
"But no one appeared for them in the case today," Sarkar said.
Y.J. Dastoor and Phiroze Edulji, the counsels appearing for Dawn, said addresses of the Morcha office and Gurung's house were incomplete on the envelopes which contained the June 16 order.
The advocate general, Kishore Dutta, intervened and said: "Speed post service in the hills is not functioning. The copies cannot be sent through e-mails as the Internet has collapsed."
Edulji then requested the acting chief justice to ask the Darjeeling SP to paste the copies of the order and the petition on the walls of the Morcha office as well as residences of the party leaders.
Justice Mhatre said the court was not concerned about any politics in the hills. ".. we are concerned about common people and tourists there," the judge added.
The court today decided to hear a contempt petition moved by Sarkar against Morcha leaders for not carrying out an order issued by it in 2013 and not paying Rs 69 crore for damaging government properties during a bandh in August that year.

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