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State Law Commission required: TR Zeliang

By EMN Updated: Nov 14, 2013 1:09 am

Minister for Planning & Coordination TR Zeliang underlined the need for constitution of a State Law Commission in Nagaland for complete review and reformation of state laws. This is necessitated for correcting “our laws” and procedures to suitably incorporate traditions and customs as part of the legal regimen, he said while addressing the 33rd parting social of Kohima Law College (KLC) at the State Academy Hall, Kohima as the chief guest on Wednesday.
Zeliang lamented that despite recognizing the customs of the Naga people, the Constitution of India has no chapter on the principles and values of various customary laws prevalent in the country’s pluralistic society. He underscored that law institutions such as the Kohima Law College must develop a curriculum on customary laws and train youths in the basic postulates of Naga customary law.
“If need be and if it is in overall interest, efforts must be made to steadily codify the customary law for being prescribed as a subject of study in our legal institutions,” he stated.
He observed that this will offer lawyers and law students a platform for continuous research on the subject.
He encouraged the senior students of the college as they pass out from their course of study to become custodians of the Third Estate advocating for the righteousness of the law of the country, to strive and carry justice system forward in truth and spirit.
Making a mention of the special provisions under Article 371A of Indian Constitution, the minister said the Naga people have been given the autonomous power which is unique to the rest of the country. Under this, he said, “we have asserted our customs in regard to women reservation and petroleum and natural gas operations in the state.”
Zeliang, however, expressed dismay that though empowered, the autonomous power is yet to be fully implemented even at this juncture when Nagaland is completing 50 years of statehood.
Zeliang exhorted the law students on the need to be conscious of the basic postulates of the Naga customary law as such is critical to social integrity.
Alongside the advantage of the unique history, he pointed out that the absence of a written customary law poses a huge drawback for the Naga people. “Another area of concern is that we do not have a common language,” he added. However, the minister expressed optimism that these demerits can be corrected with collective efforts and assessment by the competence and interpretation of legal practitioners.
In the context of tribal societies such as that of the Naga society, Zeliang observed that more than law, customs play an integral role. “The more modern laws and legal procedures are thrust onto tribal societies, the more the chances of their disintegration,” he said.
He pointed out that students of law must understand the drastic deviation in methods of administration of justice and norms of jurisprudence in a modern legal society and a tribal society as that of the Nagas which is based upon customs.
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Maintaining that customs are the “soul” of tribal societies, the minister asserted that the time has come for all those conscious of reliving the customary order to unite and reignite “the glory of our heritage”.
The minister called upon the law students fraternity not to confine their future aspirations on “government white collared jobs” but to grow and delve into “our customary practices” and strive to protect the rights of the people, upholding the special provisions given to the Naga people by the Constitution of India.
The minister also released KLC magazine on the occasion.
Besides the students and faculty of KLC, eminent figures from state legal fraternity and well wishers, including Parliamentary Secretary for Power Kipili Sangtam also attended the programme.
Others who spoke at the programme included KLC principal Akang Ao, KLC executive council president Wekhrope Marhu, Akhrieu Chusi, Mhonlumo Tsopoe and H. Donyei Phom.

By EMN Updated: Nov 14, 2013 1:09:48 am