Leader of Opposition TR Zeliang addressing a press conference on the sidelines of the ongoing session of the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly on Friday at his office in Kohima. Credit: EastMojo Image

Kohima: Following the non-admittance of the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI Act) for discussion in the ongoing session of the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly (NLA), the Opposition party—Naga People’s Front (NPF)—asked the state government to clarify its stand on the SARFAESI Act as to whether the state government accepts the Act or rejects it.

Earlier on Friday, despite protest by the Opposition, the Speaker ruled a decision which allowed chief minister Neiphiu Rio to make a statement under Rule 55 pertaining to the SARFAESI Act, 2002. This triggered the opposition party as the subject matter on SARFAESI Act, 2002, was to be discussed in the current session of the state Assembly, as part of the discussion on urgent public importance under rule 50. Rio in his statement has said that the SARFAESI Act cannot be implemented in Nagaland in its present form since it comes in direct conflict with the land holding systems and transfer of land under the provisions: Art 371A, Nagaland Land & Revenue Regulation (Amendment) Act 1978, and Nagaland Land & Revenue Regulation (Amendment) Act 2002.

Addressing a press conference on Friday on the sidelines of the ongoing session of the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly, Leader of Opposition TR Zeliang said that, as the discussion on the said Act was ruled out by the Speaker following a notice issued by the Leader of the House Neiphiu Rio, he was compelled to write to the CM seeking clarification on the stand of the government in this regard.

Saying that Rule 55 has “hijacked” the rule 50 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the NLA, Zeliang highlighted that the SARFAESI Act, 2002 was listed in the provisional program of Business as decided by the Business Advisory Board (BAC) and was scheduled under the calendar of sittings for discussion. He added that a starred question raised in this regard was not admitted in the Assembly proceedings citing the proposed discussion that was to be held. The non-admittance of the subject matter was notified to the Opposition only on the eve of the fifth day of the ongoing Assembly session.

Calling the urgent need to address the matter, Zeliang said that banks in the State have stopped financing against residential/commercial buildings and high education loans out of apprehensions arising out of a letter that was written by deputy secretary, law and justice to secretary, finance department. In the letter, the finance department mentioned that the enforcement of SAFAESI Act in the state “will conflict with the land holding system of the Nagas and their rights guaranteed with regard to transfer of ownership of land under Art 371A of the Constitution of India”. Subsequently, the State Level bankers Committee (SLBC) also wrote a separate letter to Secretary, finance department on September 2, 2019.

Through the letter addressed to the CM, Zeliang sought clarification as to whether the state of Nagaland should uphold the act or reject it. He said that if the Act is to be accepted, the Government must send a clear message to the State Level Bankers Committee (SLBC) and to the citizens of Nagaland, and if not, the state government must clearly spell out in what way the state Government will reject the Act.

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He pointed that with the non-availability of loans from the banks, the common men in the state are left to the mercy of private money lenders and that young entrepreneurs, students, contractors and suppliers, have failed to obtain bank guarantee from banks against their immovable property within the State. He questioned as to why the state government was silent on “such self-made situation” faced by its citizens.

Zeliang added that no remedial measure were taken till date and since July last year, the contractors/suppliers were made to obtain bank guarantee against their assets outside the state and those who do not own properties outside the state were compelled to approach the private money-lenders.

He expressed concern on why the banks stopped financing residential/commercial buildings and high education loans, simply out of apprehensions and speculation based on a “mere letter written by law and justice department”, and without any official notification/order from the state government.

Furthermore, Zeliang said that if the SARFAESI Act, 2002, infringes upon Art 371A, making it non-applicable in the state, the matter should be referred to the Select Committee of the state Assembly to conduct a detailed study on the matter and submit its report/recommendations to the state Assembly within a stipulated time so that discussions and resolutions can be made as per the rule of law.

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