Nagaland Dobashis

Kohima: The Nagaland Dobashi Association (NDA) on Wednesday sought Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio’s intervention for the constitution of customary courts in the state. 

Customary courts and district customary courts managed by Dobashis are not formally constituted by the state government.

Addressing a press conference at Hotel Crescent in Kohima, NDA general secretary R Kemerio Yanthan, told journalists that the association met with the chief minister and submitted a representation. 

The NDA reminded Rio that Nagaland is governed by “the Rules for Administration of Justice and Police in Nagaland 1937”, and by the third amendment act 1984- Chapter IVA, which got the assent of the President of India on March 4, 1987, Nagaland should have village courts, subordinate customary courts, and district customary courts. 

“But so far, the Village Courts had been only constituted through the Nagaland Village Council Acts 1978. All districts of Nagaland have customary courts and district customary courts managed by Dobashis although not formally constituted by the Government,” said the NDA.

The Association told Rio that the special status accorded to the state under Article 371(A) of the Constitution may “land into conflict and the essence of customs and traditions will vanish if appropriate steps are not taken” to recognize and constitute the Customary Courts in Nagaland.

NDA also drew the attention of the chief minister stating that the Dobashi institution is the oldest and one of the few Institutions associated with the customs and traditions of the Nagas. 

Yanthan informed that the chief minister has assured to “protect and safeguard” the unique customary laws of the Nagas. This is the first appeal made by the NDA to the state government. The appeal is now subject to examination by the state government.

Lhalizhü, Treasurer NDA informed that around 300 civil and criminal cases are settled in the customary court annually in Kohima alone. In a dobashi court, cases are appealed from a village level or can be directly appealed by aggrieved persons or parties. He informed that from a district, there are around 1000 appeals made annually.

Interpreters were known as Dobashis, who were appointed to act as a channel of communication between the British government and the Naga people. The Dobashi system was first started in 1842. At present, there are around 600 Dobashis in Nagaland as per the NDA. 

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