The Bihar and West Bengal (Transfer of Territories) Act, 1956

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The Act being the Bihar and West Bengal (Transfer of Territories) Act, 1956 (Act no. 40 f 1956) was enacted as Central Government’s Legislation, with the object and purpose to make provisions to transfer certain territories of Bihar State to the State of West Bengal. It was enacted by the Indian Parliament in the 7th year of republic of India and has received the assent from the President of India on 1st day of September, 1956. The provisions of the Act are divided into certain parts consisting of several sections.

So far as the preliminary provisions of the Act are concerned the Act makes provisions as to short titling of the Act as aforesaid in the first instance and on the other certain important definitions have been provided in relation to terminologies used under several provisions of this Act.

The Act under its second part makes very relevant provisions as to the purpose and object thereof. It is required that the State of West Bengal should be added with the territories comprising the parts of Kishanganj Sub division of the District Purnea which lies to the east of boundary line demarked under this Act and also the portion Gopalpur thana from the same District which lies to the east or north of the said boundary line and the Purulia sub division of the district Manbhum excluding the Chas Thana, Chandil Thana and Patamda Police State of Barabhum Thana. Such territories to form the part of Bihar State. The State Government can alter the name, extent and boundaries of any such District or Divisions of the State of West Bengal. The consequential amendment due to such transfer of territories are required under section 4 of the Act, where it is specified that the in First Schedule annexed to the Constitution of India, the Part A therein describing the territories of the States, such altered territories should be amended.

The next part is dealing with the provisions providing for representations in the legislatures. It is required that the entries mentioned in the Fourth Schedule, in the Table of Seats, connected to Bihar and West Bengal should be substituted with the entries 22 and 16 respectively. It is further required under next provision that, there should be by-election to fill up the vacancies existed in the seats allotted to the Bihar and West Bengal states. The sitting members of the then existing House of People should not be affected by such transfer. Similarly, as to existing members of the then legislative assembly of Bihar should also continue as such. And regarding legislative council of Bihar and also for West Bengal’s legislative Council, the similar provisions are provided, wherein it is specified that the any reference is made to those States in the Delimitation of Council Constituencies (West Bengal) Order, 1951 or as the case may in the Delimitation of Council Constituencies (Bihar) Order, 1951 should be construed as including the transferred territories to that State, division or district, as the case may be. Similarly, modification of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Orders of 1950 regarding such transfer of territories, can be made by the President by notifying such modifications.

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Further, part IV of the Act deals with extension of jurisdiction of the High Courts and also transfer of proceeding to that high court consequent upon such transfer of territories. And for authorizing the expenditure, the part V of the Act makes provisions, wherein it is given that any law passed in West Bengal for appropriation of any money out of Consolidated funds of the States for meeting such expenditure should also be extended to such transferred territories. Moreover, the Part VI of the Act makes similar provisions in relation to the apportionment of Assets and liabilities.

Part VII of the Act makes administrative provisions relating to State Financial corporations constituted under the provisions of the State Financial Corporations Act, 1951 for the both the concerned States. The final part of the Act being Part VIII makes legal provisions and also added with the miscellaneous provisions of the Act. The transfer of such territories under this Act should not alter the same in relation to application of any law which was having force before this Act commenced operating. Similarly, the appropriate Government is empowered under section 44 to make adaptation and modifications of any law for the reason of having application of such laws in the State of Bihar or West Bengal as the case may be. Moreover, by such transfer of territories the reference of State of Bihar or State of West Bengal which was made earlier in any legal proceedings, the same should be replaced with another as the case may be. In its miscellaneous provisions, the Act provides for overriding effect of the Act even in the presence of any inconsistent provisions of any other law. Further, the President is empowered to provide for its orders for removing the difficulties which would arise while giving the effect to the provisions of this Act. And lastly, the Central Government is empowered under this Act to make rules for effecting the provisions of this Act.

Recently, the 249th report of Law commission of India being ‘second interim report- ‘Obsolete Laws: Warranting Immediate Repeal’ dated 13th October, 2014 in its study on the topic of ‘Legal Enactments: Simplifications and Streamlining’ (LESS) has recommended the partial repeal of the present enactment.

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Adv. Faim Khalilkhan Pathan