Future of Darjeeling District Read in the Crystal Ball.

Darjeeling in Sikkim - from Sharpe's Corresponding Maps. Bengal Etc. London - Published by Chapman and Hall, 186 Strand, 1848. Divisional Series.

Hillman – the Analyst, is once again compelled to post his readings of the crystal ball indicating that the future of Darjeeling District, and its long standing demand (the right to self determination) within India, as guaranteed by the Constitution, under the provisions of The Absorbed Area (Laws) Act 1954, read with Article 244(1) – Part A&B -4 (1, 2 & 3) implemented in 2012 in the State of West Bengal thereby under Part B 4 subparagraph 3 Tribes Advisory Council (presently consisting of 13 members)  with the Chief Minister of West Bengal as the Chairperson.

To members of the public unfamiliar with constitutional understandings it is relayed hereby that Article 244(1) is the preserve of the Fifth Schedule which  guarantees legal rights to the citizens of the area (Darjeeling District) as enunciated in the aforesaid Act of 1954 ensuring right to internal self-determination within the map of India. One is reminded to note that this right is contained in an Ordinance/Bill since 2013 “The Readjustment of Representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies” pending before both Houses of Parliament bane-fully sidelined on account of its perturbed consequences to all honourable members  of Parliament of whatever political colour and hue (including MP from Darjeeling constituency), is truly a sad state of affairs.

Considering the Bill happens to deliver the long standing demand in sequence to Census 2011 accounting the Tamang and Limbu as Scheduled Tribes under Art 342, peculiarly applicable to the States of Sikkim and West Bengal (Darjeeling District). This happens to be the genesis whereby it was the Supreme Court of India directing the Ministry of Law & Justice to deliver the legal rights.

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This accounts for the Ordinance status of the Bill tabled by the then Minister of Law & Justice  Mr. Ashwini Kumar to which objections were made by none other than Mr. Arun Jaitley, leader of the opposition, for referring it to a Parliamentary Standing Committee. That besides alleging the ruling party (UPA) had an eye to the coming general elections. Surely the learned leader of the opposition was unaware of the ordinance status of the Bill? That is for history to tell and not repeat again. Not to mention history repeats itself on justifiable basis of natural social basis, but also tampering in times occasionally to synchronize to suit political aims.

However it might be said in reference to the Bill it might be delayed to a limited time the countdown of which has already begun since 2013 (already five years).

Surely the limit is lapsing, as statutory convention demands, the Ordinance/ Bill be implemented before the coming general elections 2019. This is seen to be provided invoking provisions of Articles 82, 170,330 & 332 by implementing Part 5, 6  & 7 of the Fifth Schedule in force since 2012.

On basis of the above contentious issue delving into the constitution of India it is seen in the crystal ball that not only the pending bill is passed but also Part D (2) is deemed to be amended of the constitution for the purpose of Art.368. This sight seems to be the current newspeaks of political parties in Darjeeling District i.e.

  1. GTA administrator demanding a Scheduled Area of the Fifth Schedule;
  2. GJM (Bimal Gurung) demanding invoking Art. 3(A) read as Art. 371F and
  3. GNLF demanding Sixth Schedule status but the same time open to accepting any decision by the Centre.
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Taking all the above considerations into a pointed focus it is perceivable that all three demands by the political parties is seen as rightful and legally acceptable in content. All of which indicates bifurcation of administration of three Districts of West Bengal. According to the crystal ball the vision is:

  1. Darjeeling District (all the four erstwhile subdivisions) merged with Sikkim as an Absorbed Area (of erstwhile kingdom of Sikkim).
  2. Alipur Duar District (10 Dooars erstwhile Kingdom of Bhutan) as a separate administrative unit under West Bengal under the Sixth Schedule and
  3. Cooch Bihar, as a separate administrative unit as (2) on account of it being the erstwhile Princely State of Cooch Bihar.

Last but not the least, in fact, most impacting an NGO, ‘Public Interest Committee for Scheduling Specific Areas’ (PICSSA) based in Kalimpong has already filed a PIL in the Supreme Court of India on 23/04/2017, based on the fact of the matter related to the implementation of the aforesaid Ordinance/ Bill seen to provide Part B (5) of the Fifth Schedule i.e. as a Scheduled Area (based on the Act of 1935 ‘Excluded & Partially Excluded Areas’ , section 91&92 and Order 1936) repealed and subject transferred to the Absorbed Area (1954) in the State of West Bengal under Art. 1 & 4 (First Schedule) under the Name (14) West Bengal.

The waylaid citizens of Darjeeling District should take out their hats to the yeoman’s service PICSSA has rendered in carrying forward the great task of adjudication the pending issue concerning the constitutional rights of Darjeeling District and thereby ameliorating their grievance of assimilating but not integrating the transferred Absorbed Area peoples in the national mainstream.   This delay has already caused immense impact on the district in every aspect, in terms of culture, social, economic and political. Thereby impacting the environment in every sphere of development and progress accounting for the ecological disaster confronting the District, primarily on account of excess population on land and land based resources.

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It is hoped, this disaster is contained for the good and welfare of all the inhabitants, particularly the have-nots (jobless youths and poor) who have no dream in sight let alone a vision.

…………………………………………

Mr. Karma T.Pempahishey writes under the name “Hillman – the Analyst” and can be reached at: karmapempahishey@gmail.com

Mr. Karma has expert knowledge of the Constitution of India and its provisions. He has authored the book “Roadmap on the Trail to Gorkhaland (Partially Excluded Area –The Constitutional Guarantee)” Published in 2013. The contents deal with the constitutional aspects of Darjeeling District as a Partially Excluded Area (GoI Act 1935 & Order 1936) which political identity transferred into the Constitution of India as an Absorbed Area (1954) with safeguard of political identity under provisions of the Fifth Schedule. He is also the intellectual backbone for an NGO ‘Public Interest Committee for Scheduling Specific Areas(PICSSA) which is seeking to get SC to intervene, in ensuring constitutional guarantee to Darjeeling District, given its status as “Excluded Area” status prior to the Independence. All such areas, other than Darjeeling region, have been accorded UT status post-Independence.


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