GTA Sabha rejects principal secretary names sent by gov

GTA Gorkhaland Territorial Administration logo Darjeeling
The GTA Sabha has decided to reject the two names sent by the state government for the post of the hill body's principal secretary, saying it needs more names to make a choice and that one of the two officials had been arrested earlier.

Sources in the GTA today told The Telegraph that the state government had yesterday forwarded the names of Ravi Inder Singh and Akhtar Karim.

Barun Roy, the divisional commissioner of Jalpaiguri, is holding the additional charge of the principal secretary after incumbent Gautam Ghosh retired on December 31.

A source in the GTA said: "We have decided to reject both the names. A list of two officials cannot be considered a panel. Moreover, we have received information that Ravi Inder Singh, while on deputation in the Union home ministry, had been arrested for allegedly leaking sensitive information. We believe that by proposing Singh's name, who has been involved in a controversy, the state government is belittling the autonomous body and is taking the issue lightly."

Singh, an IAS officer who was director (internal security) in the Union home ministry in 2010, was arrested for allegedly leaking corporate secrets to a Bengal-based businessman.

Singh was in charge of security clearances of several thousand companies in the telecom, shipping and mining sectors. The Delhi police special cell arrested him after prolonged surveillance. He was booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act and later repatriated to Bengal.

Singh, a 1994 IAS batch officer, is currently secretary, planning, in Calcutta.

Karim is the managing director of the West Bengal Food Processing and Horticulture Development Corporation.

The source in the GTA said the hill body would immediately write to the state government about the decision to reject the two names.

"Bimal Gurung (the chief executive of the GTA), is not happy with the state's decision. The GTA will write to the government in a day or two," said the source.

This is not the first instance that the GTA Sabha has disagreed with the choice of principal secretary.

The hill body had cried foul at the state's decision to forward the names of only Gautam Ghosh and Barun Roy for the principal secretary's post.

The GTA, however, relented after the government informed that it could not propose more names. The GTA selected Ghosh because he had earlier served in the Darjeeling hills and was conversant in Nepali.

The names of Ghosh and Roy were forwarded on June 29 following the retirement of R.D. Meena on May 30.

Even during Meena's appointment, there had been a standoff between the state government and the hill body.

The GTA approached Calcutta High Court as the state government had forwarded only the name of A.K. Singh, who was then the divisional commissioner of Jalpaiguri, for the post of principal secretary.

Following a directive from the high court, the state forwarded a list of four IAS officers to the GTA, following which Meena was selected.

Although Section 13 of the GTA agreement states a "panel" has to be submitted by the government to the hill body to select the principal secretary, the GTA Act doesn't have the word "panel".

Section 51 of the GTA Act states: "There shall be a principal secretary to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (herein referred to as the Principal Secretary), not below the rank of secretary or Commissioner to the State Government, appointed by the State government in consultation with the Chief Executive."

But Section 13 of the GTA agreement says: "There shall be a Principal Secretary of the GTA, who shall be of the rank of the Principal Secretary/Secretary to the State Government and who shall be selected by the Chief Executive from the panel sent by the State Government and shall be paid from the GTA Fund such salaries and allowances as may be fixed by the State Government."

The GTA agreement and the Act are silent on the minimum number of names that the state should forward.

Before Meena, Saumitra Mohan was discharging the duties of the principal secretary. He was then holding the post of the Darjeeling district magistrate.

When relations between the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha that runs the hill body and the government deteriorated in 2013, the GTA got Mohan removed as the principal secretary on the grounds that he was not of the rank of secretary. Mohan was the first officer to discharge the duties of principal secretary after the GTA was formed in 2012.

GTA farmer and tourism fair at Megatar Darjeeling

The GTA Sabha has decided organise a farmer and tourism fair at Megatar, about 40km from Darjeeling, between February 12 and 20. Kalyan Dewan, executive GTA Sabha member in charge of agriculture department, said: "The festival is being organised to promote agriculture as well as tourism at Megatar."

The Telegraph

GTA Sabha has decided to reject the two names sent by the state government for the post of the hill body's principal secretary, saying it needs more names to make a choice and that one of the two officials had been arrested earlier.

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