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12 Jul 2017

Child rights panel sets date for Gurung

TT, Siliguri, July 11: The West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights today issued a letter of proclamation to Bimal Gurung - asking him to depose before the panel in Calcutta at 11am on July 31 - after he had defied two summons for appearance in connection with participation of children in Gorkhaland marches in the hills.
Legal circles said the letter of proclamation was a notch above the summons. In the letter of proclamation, the person concerned is asked to appear before the court of law at a particular place and on a particular date. It is issued after the respondent fails to heed the summons.
On June 29, the commission had taken suo motu cognisance of a march organised by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in Darjeeling where children were present and a summons was served on Gurung.
The Morcha took out another procession with children on July 3 and the commission issued second summons to Gurung, asking him to appear for a hearing in the panel's office in Calcutta today.
"As Gurung did not appear today, a letter of proclamation has been issued to him. He was asked to appear in person in the commission's office in Calcutta at 11am on July 31. The commission strongly feels that children and minors are being exposed to the volatile situation in Darjeeling. Its unsafe and dangerous for children and such political programmes are a complete violation of child rights," a source said.
The letter of proclamation, signed by the chairperson of the commission, says: ".... and if you fail attend on the day and hour aforesaid you will be dealt with according to law".
The Morcha has been saying children in the hills, too, want Gorkhaland and they are brought to the rallies by the parents.
The commission initiated proceedings on the basis of a notification issued by the state school education department in November 2011 after Calcutta High Court suggested that children be kept out of political rallies early that year.
As per the notification, no school student can take part in any political activity inside or outside the school during study hours.
Asked what the commission could do if the Morcha president did not turn up for the hearing on July 31, legal experts said it could recommend the matter to a magistrate for legal action.
"If Gurung fails to obey the directive and does not attend the hearing on the specific date after receiving the letter of proclamation, the commission may recommend the matter to a magistrate for taking legal action against him," senior advocate Gitanath Ganguli said.

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