Nagaland 2023: HC quashes village resolution on consensus candidate
Nagaland PWD (housing and mechanical) minister Tongpang Ozukum

Kohima: The Gauhati High Court Kohima Bench on Monday suspended the Mongsenyimti village under Mokokchung district’s decision to endorse minister of Public Works Department (PWD) Housing & mechanical, Tongpang Ozukum as the lone candidate from the village to contest for the 24-Angetyongpang Assembly Constituency in 2023 state Assembly polls.

The order from the court follows the Writ Petition (Civil) 290/2022 filed by S Moangkaba Ozukum, son of former seven-time legislator Sentichuba, who was excommunicated from the village for expressing his intention to contest the forthcoming election.

Hearing the petition, Justice LS Jamir ordered that the decision/resolution made by the Mongsenyimti Riongsanger Putu Menden/village council on December 28, 2021, and its subsequent announcement on June 1, 2022, as well as the announcement made by the Mongsenyimti Senso Mungdang on October 23, 2022, shall remain suspended till further orders.

How it all started:

As per the petition, the Mongsenyimti Senso Mungdang, apex body of Mongsenyimti citizens residing in the village and elsewhere, and the Mongsenyimti Putu Menden (Village Council) had been “exercising powers not only to regulate social life of the Mongsenyimti villagers but also to penalize the villagers” and that it is “exercising punitive and also monopolistic regulative powers over the villagers”.

As per documents obtained by EastMojo, the Mongsenyimti’s apex body (Senso Mungdang) on December 28, 2021 had resolved to endorse the proclamation of the village council (Riongsanger Putu Menden) to bestow the privilege and responsibility of contesting the upcoming state Assembly election to sitting the minister, during its 61st general meeting that was held at Longsapang.

On June 1 this year, the village council, through a written proclamation, had also informed all its residents that it had decided to support whichever political party the minister will belong to, and that the decision was approved by all members present by a show of hands during the last general meeting.

It also stated that except for the minister, no other residents of the village shall contest the election. The village council had also warned its residents that anyone who disobeys this decision would be summoned and punished.

Subsequently on October 7, it summoned the petitioner to meet with the village council on October 13 and “coerced” the petitioner to “give an undertaking that he is giving up the citizenship of Mongsenyimti village on his own accord”.

On October 19, the village council then made an announcement that the petitioner is no longer a Mongsenyimti villager, since the latter could not accept its decision.

Later on October 23, the apex body of Mongsenyimti citizens, announced that the petitioner cannot conduct himself as a resident of the village and barred him from entering the territorial area of the village, warning that the petitioner would be punished as per customary practices in case of any violation.

A copy of this announcement was also published in a local vernacular daily on October 25 following which the petitioner clarified his stand through the same daily on October 27.

While three of the announcements made by the local bodies were suspended by the High Court Kohima Bench, the next hearing for the case has been listed after four weeks.

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