All tribes “agreed” to the reserving one-third bill for women.
All tribes “agreed” to the idea of reserving one-third of the land for women: Gov. of Nagaland to Supreme Court
The Supreme Court was informed by the Government of Nagaland on Tuesday that all 16 major tribes and 7 minor tribes “all agreed to the concept of 1/3rd reservation for women,” clearing the way for the recent submission of the Nagaland Municipal Bill 2023 in the State Assembly.
The Nagaland Advocate General (AG) presented the bill to the supreme court on September 26. It was tabled in the monsoon session of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly (NLA) on September 12 and allows for 33% reservations for women in accordance with Article 243T in the Urban Local Bodies.
The concept of a 1/3 reservation for women was accepted by all 16 major tribes and 7 smaller tribes, which made this process possible in collaboration with them on September 1, 2023.
The AG further stated that the Bill has been forwarded to the Select Committee, which would be able to provide its report soon, in accordance with the order made by the two-judge Bench of Justices SK Kaul and Sudhansu Dhulia.
The AG thereupon asked for the Civil Appeal hearing regarding the ULB elections in Nagaland to be postponed until after the first week of November 2023. At that point, he also expressed optimism for the Bill’s passage by the NLA.He further asserts that, if the Bill is approved and the order appended, he would like to provide a plan and schedule for how the election Civil Appeal No(s).3607/2016 would be handled. Based on the Nagaland AG’s reply, the Bench scheduled a follow-up hearing for November 10.
The hearings pertain to the plea filed by Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) against the Nagaland Government and the State Election Commission for non-implementation of 1/3rd reservation in municipalities and town councils.
During the last hearing on July 25, the Supreme Court categorically stated that “the personal laws of Nagaland and even the special status under Article 371A (1) of the Constitution are not being touched in any manner” by the mandate of the Constitution to have at least 1/3rd reservation of municipalities for women.
“This is a state where education, economic participation, and social status of women are among the best…Thus our concern is as to why something as simple as giving them at least 1/3rd representation in municipal governance should not be welcomed and action should not be taken in that behalf,” then observed Justice Kaul and Justice Dhulia.
Thereafter, the Nagaland AG was granted “one last opportunity,” listing the matter for further hearing on September 26.
It must be noted here that on April 5, the apex court stayed the notification issued by the SEC Nagaland on March 30, cancelling the ‘Election Programme’ for the conduct of elections to 3 Municipal Councils and 36 Town Councils” in Nagaland until further orders.
Earlier, on March 14, the SEC submitted before the apex court a notification dated March 9, informing that the civic polls in Nagaland are scheduled for May 16, and the model code of conduct has come into force.
However, the Court was informed on April 5 that the ‘Election Programme’ has been canceled. The SEC cancelled the ULB polls after the NLA March 28 resolution repealing the NMA 2002, citing “stiff voices of opposition” by the ‘Tribal Bodies, Civil Society Organisations, and every section of society.’
The Supreme Court had previously observed that the repeal of the NMA 2001 was itself an “ingenious method” adopted to evade the undertaking given to the Court.
The New Bill
As noted above, the Nagaland Municipal Bill introduced in the NLA on September 12 does not have many significant changes from the repealed Nagaland Municipal Act 2001.
It retained the provision for 33% reservation seats for women in ULBs elections with Chapter 2, Article 8, Clause (a) stating: “Not less than one-third of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in every Municipal Council shall be reserved for women, and such seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Municipality.”
However, the absence of contentious property taxes was the most significant change in the new Bill. Under Chapter 1, Article 122, the Bill read: “With the previous sanction of the Government, a municipality may, in order to raise revenue for its duties and performing its functions under this Act, levy within its limits of Municipality the following taxes, fees, and tolls or any of them.”
As submitted by the AG Nagaland on September 26, the Bill was introduced following a consultative meeting convened by the State Government on September to deliberate on ULBs, Forest Conservation (Amendment) Act, and Uniform Civil Code (UCC).
Nagaland Minister for Power and Parliamentary Affairs, KG Kenye later termed the meeting as ‘very conclusive’ and it reached a ‘consensus.’
The State Government is moving ahead and preparing for the Assembly Session on September 11, where necessary formalities will be processed and made official, he then added.
On the protracted 33% reservation for women in ULB elections, Kenye said it was extensively deliberated and that it has been ‘more or less accepted’ by one and all.
Meanwhile, after deliberation on the floor of the House on September 12, the Bill was referred to a Select Committee under Rule 73 (D) of the Rules and Procedure and conduct of Business in the NLA.
Subsequently, the NLA Speaker announced a 7-member Select Committee to examine the Nagaland Municipal Bill 2023 on September 14. The Select Committee is headed by Deputy Chief Minister, TR Zeliang as Convenor while Ministers KG Kenye, P Paiwang Konyak, Jacob Zhimomi, Metsubo Jamir, and Advisors Mhathung Yanthan and Zhaleo Rio are members. The Secretary in charge of the NLA is the Member Secretary of the Committee.