Nagaland ULB polls: New panel to be constituted to frame new Municipal Act

Kohima, 27 April (MTNews): The Nagaland government will constitute a panel to consult different sections of the Naga society to frame a new municipal law according to the local customary and social practices. This is seen as a revelation of the state government’s plan after repealing the Nagaland Municipal Act 2001 and subsequent cancellationof the Urban Local Body (ULB) elections.


Nagaland Minister of Power and Parliamentary Affairs, KG Kenye said in a press conference today that there is no ‘timeframe’ to constitute the panel but the government is aware of the urgency and will ‘lose no time’.


According to Kenye, repealing the Nagaland Municipal Act 2001 on 28 March by the Nagaland Legislative Assembly (NLA) was appropriate because successive state governments’ attempts to reform the Act had failed to meet the people’s desire.


“After 22 years since the enactment of our Municipal Act, we have reached a stage where we had to relook, and the NLA resolved to completely repeal the Act,” Kenye said.


It may be noted here that Naga tribal bodies and civil society organizations have long opposed the ULB polls under the 2001 law, claiming that some sections of the Act violated Article 371A of the Constitution.


The MP went on to say that the Act was adopted since Nagaland is a resource-constrained state, and the Centre was only going to offer funds for township development if there was a municipal law in place.


While he did not accuse the past lawmakers of any wrongdoing, he stated that the Act was passed without realizing it would violate the social practices protected by Article 371A. “It was not in consonance with the views and stand of the Naga people,” he added.


Concerning the ongoing litigation in the Supreme Court via a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) seeking 33% reservation for women in Nagaland civic bodies, the MP claimed that some sections of the media exaggerated reports that CM Rio’s government was charged with contempt of court for repealing the Municipal Act.


The minister stated that the court had scheduled the next hearing for 1 May and that the state government’s legal team will shed light on the problem and clear the air so that the highest court could render a fair judgment.


Kenye also revealed that the state is mulling to come up with an “official interpretation” of Article 371A as there are “too many interpretations” of the Article. He said that it is high time for the state to have an official version or interpretation of Article 371A.

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