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Vinod Kumar , Hindustan Times
Chandigarh , January 09, 2013
The UT administration has finally written to the central government for the withdrawal of notification pertaining to "disturbed area" status, which was abolished by the Punjab and Haryana high court. The issue of withdrawal of the notification was under the consideration of the Union government. Confirming the development, UT home secretary Anil Kumar said that they had sent a proposal to the Centre and a final decision was awaited.

On September 19, 2012, the high court had quashed the status of disturbed area accorded to Chandigarh for over two decades.

The home secretary maintained that a lot of deliberation was required before reaching any conclusion, considering the complexity of the issue. The administration would decide the next course of action after receiving communication on the issue from the government.

The court had abolished the disturbed area status on a petition filed by Surinder Bhardwaj and the administration had accepted the verdict and did not appeal against the decision. Though the UT authorities made desperate efforts, but they failed to convince the court on the need for continuation of the status under present circumstances.

The President of India had issued proclamation on the issue on October 7, 1983, in order to equip UT police with additional powers to deal with terrorism then prevailing in Punjab and to help restore peace and normalcy in the city.

Chandigarh was declared disturbed area through notifications of ministry of home affairs (MHA) on December 2, 1986, and December 5, 1991.

Ever since the creation of Chandigarh in November 1966, the day-to-day affairs of the city were managed by the chief commissioner until the Disturbed Area Act was enforced in 1986.  The post of chief commissioner was abolished and the Punjab governor was made the UT administrator.

Subsequently, the post of chief commissioner, held by an Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram-Union Territories (AGMUT) cadre IAS officer, was converted into post of advisor, who reported to the administrator.

As per Chandigarh Disturbed Areas Act, the term 'administrator' means the administrator of the union territory of Chandigarh who is appointed under Article 239 of the Constitution. The administrator by notification in the official gazette can declare the whole or any part of the city as disturbed area. The Act had empowered any magistrate or police officer not below the rank of sub-inspector in case of the armed branch of police to fire upon persons contravening certain orders.


 Chief commissioner post to be revived?

If the Centre withdraws the disturbed area notification, there are possibilities of revival of the post of chief commissioner in Chandigarh, who managed day-to-day affairs even since UT was created in November 1966.
He continued to head the UT bureaucracy till the Disturbed Area Act was enforced in 1986. The post of chief commissioner was abolished and the Punjab governor made the UT administrator.