Kohima: The Nagaland Assembly on Tuesday decided to refer the Nagaland Municipal Bill 2023 to the Select Committee for further consideration.
The decision to this effect was taken on the second day of the monsoon session of the Assembly after the members deliberated on the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) election which has not been held in the northeastern state for almost two decades.
The first and last election to Urban Local Bodies in Nagaland was held in 2004.
During its March session, the Assembly had repealed the Nagaland Municipal Act 2001 and decided to bring about a new law incorporating the views of the tribal bodies and civil societies on 33 per cent women reservation and also tax on land and properties.
The government had announced conduct of the elections to ULBs several times but staunch objection from the tribal bodies and civil society organisations against the 33 per cent women reservation and tax on land & properties had held back the polls.
In 2017, when the state government led by T R Zeliang tried to hold the elections, there was violence. Two persons were killed and government properties and offices were damaged. It also led to the fall of the Zeliang ministry.
The Neiphiu Rio-led all-party government in March this year also announced conduct of an election with 33 per cent women reservation as directed by the Supreme Court.
However, following stiff resistance again, the government cancelled the elections and also repealed the Act of 2001.
In the September 1 consultative meeting with the tribal bodies and civil society organizations convened by the state government, it was decided that ULB elections will be held with a women’s quota, and that the government will table the new Act in the monsoon session of the Assembly.
On Tuesday, at least nine members led by Minister for Parliamentary Affairs K G Kenye participated in the discussion, and they were of the view that while the women’s quota is welcome, the final Bill should be referred to the select committee and also placed before the public for a consensus.
First-time women legislators Minister Salhoutuonuo Kruse and MLA Hekani Jakhalu also participated in the discussion.
Giving the concluding remarks, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said, “The Tribal Bodies and the people always viewed the attempts for holding elections with suspicion, and there was stiff opposition,” he said.
Serious questions were always raised about the provisions of the Nagaland Municipal Act, 2001, being in contravention of Article 371A of the Constitution. The Assembly repealed the Act in toto in the interest of the people, and the state, Rio said.
“Our action of repealing the Act has been subsequently examined by the Supreme Court, and in its last order, the court, while advocating 1/3rd representation for women, has further stated that the personal laws of Nagaland and the special status under Article 371A are not being touched in any manner.
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“We have been given by the Court one last of the last opportunities to abide by its directions, and the case is next listed on September 26,” he said.
The Chief Minister said if the House is of the opinion that more examination and deliberations are required for the provisions in the Bill, it may consider referring to the Select Committee for its consideration.
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