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Above: Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha activists  blocking NH-55 during a demonstration in support of their demands of separate Gorkhaland state, in Darjeeling (file picture).Photo: UNI

The Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud on Friday (October 27) took the case of deployment of central paramilitary forces in the disturbed Darjeeling district of West Bengal out of the hands of the Calcutta High Court, saying that the apex court would be dealing with it “holistically.”

As an interim measure, the apex court has ordered that 8 companies of paramilitary forces will remain in the area, while 7 can be withdrawn. This will be reviewed by the top court.

The Central government had moved the top court against the Calcutta High Court’s order staying the Union government’s decision of withdrawing Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) from the Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts of West Bengal.

The petition raises the following questions of law:

  1. a) “Whether the high court, while exercising its power of judicial review, could act as an Appellate Court and whether in the matters affecting the policy and requiring technical expertise should not be left to the decision of those who are entrusted and qualified to address the same.
  2. b) “Whether in assessing the propriety of a decision of the government the court can interfere, if a second view is possible from that of the government and whether the correctness of the reasons which prompted the government in decision-making, taking one course of action instead of another could be a matter of concern in judicial review.
  3. c) “Whether the policy decision should not be left to the Government as it alone can decide which policy should be adopted after considering all the points from different angles and whether Court is appropriate forum for such investigation.
  4. d) “Whether under the Indian Constitutional jurisprudence, courts could express their opinion as to whether at a particular juncture or under a particular situation prevailing in the country, which policy should be adopted and how the national security of the Country is maintained and how the Armed forces should be deployed.”

On Friday the CJI asked: “How many companies were deployed earlier?”

ASG Maninder Singh said: “15 were deployed earlier, and 7 were withdrawn because of election duty. Eight remain.”

That was when the apex court ordered status quo on the number of forces and took the issue out of the high court’s hands.

—India Legal Bureau

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