The Supreme Court today permitted the Centre to withdraw four of the eight companies of Central Armed Paramilitary Forces (CAPF) from strife-torn Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts of West Bengal for deployment in poll- bound Gujarat. A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud agreed to the Centre’s plea to relocate half of the remaining paramilitary forces from the state’s strife-torn districts to the poll-bound state after being told that the situation in country’s eastern part was returning to normal. “We will leave it to the government,” the bench said after Attorney General K K Venugopal told the bench that the matter should be decided by the government. “We (government) have elections in Gujarat. These matters are to be decided by the government and the court should not venture here,” Venugopal said. He said the Union of India was alive to the situation prevailing in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts and now “the situation there is returning to normalcy”. The apex court considered the statement and permitted the Centre to withdraw maximum four out of eight CAPF companies.
The court had on October 27 permitted the Centre to withdraw seven of the 15 companies of CAPF from Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts of West Bengal for deployment in poll- bound states of Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. Observing that law and order was a “state subject”, the court had stayed the Calcutta High Court order restraining the Centre from relocating the paramilitary forces from the state and had asked the state government to respond to the Centre’s appeal within a week. The High Court had asked the Centre to allow all 15 companies of paramilitary forces to remain in the state. The apex court on October 25 had agreed to hear the Centre’s plea challenging the High Court order on withdrawal of security forces.
The Calcutta High Court had stayed the withdrawal of paramilitary forces from Darjeeling hills, the scene of unrest over the statehood demand, till October 27 after the state government approached it opposing the Centre’s decision. The Centre had said it needed to deploy the forces in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, besides the borders of Jammu and Kashmir and in the north-eastern states.