Says it is biased against land owners and unacceptable


In a recent development, the Lika (Landowners’) Board of Mokokchung Town has submitted a rejoinder to the Deputy Commissioner of Mokokchung, Nagaland in response to the 18 October 2022 addendum and the Office Memorandum dated 14 September 2018. The Board’s response raises crucial concerns regarding the government’s land acquisition policies.


The Lika Board, representing the interests of landowners, in its rejoinder submitted to the DC Mokokchung on 16 June firmly emphasized that the establishment of District Headquarters or Departmental Offices on their land have never been on the request or demand of the landowners concerned. The Board also stated that, however, the landowners have never obstructed or opposed any departmental establishment under the Government of Nagaland till date.


Furthermore, the Board asserted that any establishment, whether on occupied, donated, or sold land, were subject to certain conditions between the concerned department or government authority and the landowners for a specific period. “This proves that the said occupation of such land or premises was never been relinquished to the government authorities, except for the outirghtly purchased land by the government,” the Board added.


The Board also mentioned that the benefits, opportunities, advantages or facilities taken by the landowners, if any, “cannot be construed as absolute transferred/compensated and/or settled in favor of the persons/authorities in possession of the said land and premises at present.”



Opposition to October 2022 Addendum


The Lika Board, in its rejoinder, also opposed the 50:50 basis introduced in the October 2022 addendum, which aimed to divide the reserved posts of Grade-IV (MTS) between fresh candidates and landowners. The Board regarded this “50:50 basis” as a direct challenge to the landowners and undermining their “farsighted sacrificial gesture made for the common welfare.”


It may be noted that the addendum issued by the state government on 18 October 2022 revised the percentage allocation for Grade-IV (MTS) posts. “The percentage of posts for landowners will now be worked out on 50:50 basis between the fresh candidates and landowners concerned out of the 33% reserved post of Grade-IV (MTS) for fresh candidates,” the addendum read.


Additionally, the addendum entrusted the respective Deputy Commissioners to minutely and strictly cross check all documents of claims under landownership and recommend the case after ascertaining their genuineness.


Further, in the same addendum, the government clarified that appointments based on land ownership would not be for perpetuity and that the recommendation or appointment will be a “one-time consideration only.”


This move by the government raised concerns among landowners, who see it as a potential limitation on their rights and benefits.



Key Highlights of the Landowners’ Opposition


It is worth noting here that the Lika Board had previously on 20 December 2019 responded to the State Government’s Land Revenue Department Office Memorandum issued on 6 August 2018, expressing their concerns and seeking rectification to the office memorandum on the matter.


The key points highlighted by the Lika Board in both of their 2019 and 2023 rejoinders underscored that the establishment of District Headquarters or Departmental offices on their land was not on their request or demand and that they have never obstructed or opposed the establishment of such offices.


Moreover, the Board emphasized that any government establishment on their land was subject to specific conditions agreed upon between the concerned department and the landowners, and that benefits, opportunities, advantages, or facilities provided by the government to the landowners should not be misconstrued as a complete transfer of ownership.


“Rather, if it had been given by the government departments, that itself is the justifying evidence that the concerned landowners are the absolute landowners of the very land,” the Board had said in its 2019 rejoinder.


The Lika (Landowners’) Board in its 16 June rejoinder stated that it firmly stands by its 20 December 2019 rejoinder and maintained that the government addendum dated 28 October 2022 is not acceptable, terming it as biased against the landowners. “We will not compromise with our stand,” the Board declared.


The Lika (Landowners’) Board consists of land owners of Ungma, Mokokchung and Khensa villages.



The Office Memorandum of 2018: What it says


It may be recalled that the office memorandum issued by the Land Revenue Department on 6 August 2018 reiterated the importance of complying with government rules and policies by all departments regarding land donated by individuals, communities, villages, and others with the conditions for employment to government service or contract works or other facilities on land ownership basis.


The memorandum demanded that, as per the 26 July 2005 notification, no land shall be acquired free of cost and that all land acquisitions be conducted by paying full compensation as determined by law. It specified that no further conditions related to employment or contractual work should be entertained. Any agreements entered into by departments with landowners, deviating from the established policy after 26 July 2005 shall be treated as null and void, it said.


In exceptional cases where a department believed that an agreement should not be declared null and void, the memorandum required referring the matter to the Department of Land Revenue along with relevant details and justifications. The Department of Land Revenue would then examine and provide advice on the matter in consultation with the P&AR (Personnel and Administrative Reforms) and Justice & Law departments. The final decision on such agreements was to be made by the Cabinet.


Furthermore, the memorandum stated that old cases involving the establishment of administrative and block headquarters on freely donated land should not be reopened for compensation or providing employment or other facilities in consonance with the policy outlined in the Memorandum dated 20 June 1977.


For cases where specific written or oral agreements existed between landowners and the government, both prior to and subsequent to 26 July 2005, regarding employment or other facilities, the concerned department was required to refer the matter to the Deputy Commissioner of the respective district. The Deputy Commissioner shall thoroughly examine such claims, including any past instances of employment or provision of other facilities. Written statements from witnesses, such as government officials, district administration personnel, and village functionaries present during the agreement, were to be obtained by the Deputy Commissioner. The recommendation of the Deputy Commissioner, along with supporting documents and explanations, was to be forwarded to the Department of Land Revenue for examination and approval.


Additionally, it was clarified that the government did not intend to provide employment or other facilities to landowners in perpetuity. If permitted by a valid and verifiable agreement, the employment or other facility was limited to the person initially appointed as the landowner in government service and did not extend to their descendants upon retirement or vacation of the post. Vacancies that arose when the appointed landowner retired or left the position were to be filled through open advertisements, ensuring equal opportunities for all applicants.


The 2018 memorandum emphasized that any government official acting in contravention of government rules and policies would be subject to disciplinary action as per the provisions laid down in ‘The Nagaland Government Servants Conduct Rules, 1968’.

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