The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Centre to withdraw only up to four companies of Central Armed Police Force (CAPFs) from Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts in West Bengal.
The CAPFs were deployed there following the agitation for Gorkhaland.
Earlier, the court had allowed the government to withdraw seven companies out of 15 from the affected areas.
Appearing for the Centre, Attorney General KK Venugopal told the bench that the issue of deployment of forces falls in the domain of government and the court should not interfere.
He said there is no agitation in the area, as the same has been withdrawn by the protesters.
“Troops need to be sent to the states that are going for polls,” the AG argued.
Opposing the government’s decision, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who represented the West Bengal government, submitted that on October 18, the Centre has issued an order saying a committee will be set up which will inspect the area.
“This is a very serious situation. In the federal structure, the Centre has the constitutional obligation to deploy Armed forces in the state to maintain peace,” Sibal said.
The former Law Minister sought the court to direct the government to withdraw the forces in a phased manner.
Accepting Sibal’s argument, the bench said the government is allowed to withdraw the maximum of four troops only.
The bench was hearing the Centre’s petition against the Calcutta High Court order, which had restrained the government from doing so.
Pursuant to the Calcutta High Court order, the Centre had deployed 15 companies at the scene of unrest over the statehood demand.
However on October 17, in an interim order, the high court had stayed the government’s decision to withdraw the companies.
While hearing a PIL in July, the high court had directed the Centre to deploy four companies of CAPF in addition to the 11 already present in the hills.
The Bengal government had requested the Centre for the extension of deployment of CAPF till December 25, which was declined by the Centre.