Committee To Study Naga Customary Practices Before New ULB Act, Says Kenye - Eastern Mirror
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Committee to study Naga customary practices before new ULB Act, says Kenye

By Menuse-O Max Khieya Updated: Apr 27, 2023 10:40 pm
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KG Kenye addressing a press conference in Kohima on Thursday. (EM Images)

Kohima: Minister of Parliamentary Affairs KG Kenye stated that the government of Nagaland would constitute a committee to study all aspects of Naga customary practices before drafting a new act to govern urban local bodies (ULB).

The minister stated this during a press conference in Kohima on Thursday.

Kenye asserted that the state government, after constituting a committee, will hold wide-ranging consultations with all concerned, whereby the state will adopt the new Act for municipalities as “early as possible”.

“Today, after having tried the Municipal Act 2001, we have run into a lot of controversies; so thereby, the state government has taken a relook and we have completely repealed the old Act on March 28 (in the state assembly),” Kenye said.

“Whatever is necessary pertaining to our social practices, we will accommodate; but the government must be allowed to frame our own rules and laws as far as our social practices are concerned,” he added.

He recounted how the Nagaland Municipal Act 2001 was, for the first time ,enacted in the assembly as the government was looking for funding to develop its towns, being a ‘resource-crunch state, with almost zero revenue’.

Considering how the Central government gives funds as aid only to those states that enact laws to constitute the municipal councils, he said ‘in desperation the state government of yesteryears must have tried to enact the Act of 2001’.

‘It must be with good intentions to develop the state and benefit the citizens that they adopted the resolution quickly and brought the proposed Act,’ he said.

He related how, in 1992 – 93, the secretaries of Urban Development departments of different states were asked to put in their opinions and forward their suggestions on the Act, if any rectifications were to be made, stating that several meetings were held between various states and the Centre concerning ULB.

He said Nagaland did not have an Urban Development secretary during the time when all the states were directed to enact laws to govern ULB.

Kenye expressed doubt whether there was any correspondence with the Ministry of Urban Development from Nagaland or whether any secretary represented the state on any level for discussion. “We missed the bus and we were never able to respond to it and the 74th Amendment Act was adopted by our state in 2001 just as it was,” he said.

After 2001, despite the state government’s attempt to enact certain parts of the Municipal Act at least four to five times, he said it failed miserably to fulfill the desire of the people. “We had lots of hurdles in our attempts to constitute the Act,” he said.

“After 22 years, we had to relook at the entire Act, that is where the state assembly decided to completely repeal the 2001 Act in toto and go for a new Act, the laws and regulations of which will be framed by our own people to suit our conditions and situations,” he said.

While the issue of holding the ULB with 33% reservation for women came to the fore, he recalled how some sections of the society dragged the state government to the court, keeping in mind the custom and traditional practices barring females from taking part in many areas of their social life.

However, over the years, he said concessions were made and with time, they “removed all restrictions” where women were seen taking part in many areas in the society including leadership. He cited examples of Rano Mese Shaiza, the lone Lok Sabha member from Nagaland, and the two women legislators who were, for the first time, elected in the state legislative assembly without any reservation.

Meanwhile, citing the order from the Supreme Court to the state government after failing to conduct the ULB election, he said some media reported that a “contempt of court” had been notified and the chief minister and state government had also been pulled up by the court.

However, Kenye clarified that the order of the apex court in no way mentioned about the same and such reports were “unfounded and baseless”.

Given the latest order of the court to the state with regard to the ULB issue, he stated that the legal team was asked, while soliciting the Additional Solicitor General (ASG), to make a presentation on the background on customary, social and religious practices of the state to the court within a span of two week effective on May 1, which is the next hearing, in order to clear the air.

As per the latest order, he stated that the submission of ASG was that the government of India (GoI) was only being asked to send additional supporting paramilitary forces to the state to conduct the panchayat (ULB) election and nothing more.

However, he asserted that the court was only asking the stand of GoI on the issue, whether it is acceptable or should there be any action taken upon it.

“They have asked for more documents and information on this Article (371-A) and also asked our legal team to make this presentation on May 1, that is to say what special constitutional guarantees have been given to us under the article,” he said.

ULB elections, like any other election, require mass participation of the electorates, he said. However, he reminded that if people are objecting and agitating while refusing to take part in the election, even if the government notifies, nobody would come forward and accordingly, without the participation of the citizens, it would not be a successful poll.

Considering such a situation, the state assembly has repealed the Municipal Act 2001 and so in the absence of the very Act, it was impossible for the government to conduct the election.

By Menuse-O Max Khieya Updated: Apr 27, 2023 10:40:35 pm
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