Mokokchung, 18 March (MTNews): The Municipal Affairs Department of the Government of Nagaland on Saturday said that the authorities were duty bound to conduct Urban Local Body (ULB) elections in the state as per the notified schedule, and in accordance with the 74th amendment of the Constitution that stipulates 33% reservation for women in ULBs as directed by the Supreme Court.


In a press release, Principal Secretary to the Government of Nagaland, I Himato Zhimomi, in view of media reports of various organizations raising objections to the forthcoming ULB election, clarified on the key points of contention.


It was clarified that the Supreme Court of India has, after a series of hearings, directed that ULB elections must be held in Nagaland without any further delay in accordance with the 74th amendment of the Constitution that stipulates 33% reservation for women in ULBs. It was stated that the Supreme Court on 13 February 2023 directed the state government to issue the notification for elections to the ULBs by 9 March. In compliance with the Supreme Court order, the State Election Commission issued the notification for the election to be held on 16 May and Model Code of Conduct was accordingly enforced, it said, while adding that, “State authorities are duty bound to conduct ULB elections as per the notified schedule.”


With regard to the issue of tax on land and building, it was clarified that the provisions relating to it have already been removed from the Nagaland Municipal Act (NMA) 2001 by the NMA (3rd amendment) Act 2016.


The amendment of section 120 (1) (a) states that “All references and operative provisions relating to tax on land and buildings wherever these occur in the Nagaland Municipal Act 2001 shall be deemed to have been omitted.”


With some quarters requesting for replacement of the word “deleted” in lieu of “omitted”, it was also clarified that as per legal opinion, the words “omission, omitted and deleted” have no difference and should be read as the same meaning and character in the context of the amendment issue in question.


With regard to suggestions of nominating women in ULBs with voting rights instead of 33% women’s reservations of wards, the government rejected the suggestion, it was clarified that the Supreme Court in its 22 February, 2022 judgment had categorically struck down this suggestion as “something naturally not acceptable.”


On the reservations for women chairpersons, it was clarified that women’s reservation of chairpersons of the ULBs is notified as per Section 23B of the Nagaland Municipal Act, 2001, as amended. “To bring about fair play, the rotation is being based on the alphabetical order of the ULBs,” it added.


As per the statement, the SC in its 14 March 2023 judgment had directed that the poll schedule should not be disturbed and that the election process be completed in terms of the schedule. It also said that the State Election Commission and the Government were directed by the Supreme Court to make all necessary arrangements to ensure free and fair elections in pursuance to the Notification and that any violation by any authority or citizen in breach thereof would be an act in breach of the order of the court.


Accordingly, the next hearing in the SC is scheduled on 18 May only to ensure that the ULB election process is over, it stated.


In light of the above, the government has urged registered voters of the ULBs to participate in the forthcoming elections as notified with polls scheduled for 16 May and “make it a resounding success.”

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