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GTA cloud on Sanjay Thulung suspension

GTA member Sanjay Thulung
The GTA Sabha is in a fix over its decision to suspend elected member Sanjay Thulung, who is wanted in cases related to recovery of arms in Assam and Darjeeling, as the GTA Act does not have provisions for suspension of an elected member.

When the issue was taken up in front of Bhupendra Pradhan, the chairman of the GTA Sabha, by The Telegraph, he agreed that there was a mistake and they would look into the matter.

The GTA Sabha had taken the decision to "suspend" Thulung on January 6.

The next day, The Telegraph had pointed out that the GTA Act does not have such a provision and Pradhan had said: "I will refer to the Act and get back."

Today, he said: "We will go through all the provisions and see what can be done."

Earlier this month, the GTA Sabha had said Thulung had been suspended till his name was cleared in the arms haul cases.

The elected GTA Sabha member had been named in an FIR related to recovery of arms from Assam in November last year and from 27th Mile in Darjeeling district in December.

The "suspension" resolution taken up by the GTA Sabha has come under scanner as according to Section 18 of the GTA Act, which deals with "removal of members", "government, may after giving an opportunity to an elected Member to show cause against the action proposed to be taken against him, by order, remove him from office".

The section clearly states that it is the government that can "remove" a member.

Although the GTA Sabha had "suspended", Thulung, there is no provision in the GTA Act that empowers either the government or the GTA Sabha to "suspend" any elected member.

According to the GTA Act the government could "remove" an elected member on several grounds one of which is: "if after an election a criminal court convicts the member of an offence involving moral turpitude punishable with imprisonment of more than six months".

This provision cannot be applied even in Thulung's case as he has neither been arrested nor convicted by a court.

The GTA Sabha member is currently absconding.

Another provision regarding the removal of a GTA member in the Act is: "if he fails to attend three consecutive GTA Sabha meeting without its permission".

After Thulung went missing, the GTA Sabha has not held three meetings.

Even if the government is to "remove" Thulung, on the behest of the GTA Sabha, the Act clearly states that the government must form an authority to which the removed member can make an appeal against removal.

Although there are other grounds for removal, for example, if an elected member is below 18 years old, or is not a citizen of India, and others, none of the grounds can be applied in Thulung's case.

The other ground for disqualification of a member of the GTA is on grounds of defection but this does not hold for Sanjay Thulung as even for disqualification on this ground, a "prescribed authority" cannot declare any member disqualified without giving the member a reasonable opportunity to represent his case and to be heard in person.

Sources in the GTA Sabha said the decision to suspend Thulung was taken as no one was aware of the provisions of the Act.

"Everyone started talking about the need to suspend him and this is how the resolution was passed," said a GTA Sabha member.

The Sabha members could not say what would be the next course of action now that it was known that the "suspension" of Thulung was not in accordance with the provision of the GTA Act.

Opposition parties in the hills were quick to criticise the GTA Sabha members for not knowing the provisions of the GTA Act.

Binny Sharma, the general secretary of Trinamul hills, who is also the party spokesperson, said: "The GTA members do not even know the act of the body that they are currently administering. What else can be expected of them."

"Anyway, the Sabha took the decision (to "suspend" Thulung) to save its face. The issue is about arresting the mastermind," he added.

GTA delegation met union human resource development minister Smriti Irani


A GTA delegation, including executive Sabha member Roshan Giri, Darjeeling MLA Trilok Dewan, Darjeeling MP S.S. Ahluwalia, GTA secretary Don Bosco Lepcha, and GTA executive director K.B. Yogi met union human resource development minister Smriti Irani in Delhi on Wednesday.

"We met Smriti Irani with a proposal to set up a central university in the hills. She has asked her department to initiate a file on the matter. The GTA has also asked EDCIL India Limited, a government of India enterprise, to prepare a detailed project report by February end," Giri said over the phone.

The Telegraph

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