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Nagaland: NDBA demands to establish customary Court

The Nagaland Dobashi Association (NDBA) has petitioned the state’s chief minister, Neiphiu Rio, to establish customary courts. On Wednesday morning, a team of NDBA members met with the chief minister and made a formal representation in this regard.

NDBA general secretary R Kimerio Yanthan revealed this at a press conference later in the evening at Hotel Crescent here, saying that the chief minister had guaranteed them of conserving and protecting Nagas’ distinct heritage and tradition.

According to him, the association’s letter to the chief minister reminded him that the dobashi institution was the oldest and one of the few institutions related with Naga customs and traditions.

Nagaland was governed by the “Rules for Administration of Justice and Police in Nagaland 1937,” which required Nagaland to have village courts, subordinate customary courts, and district customary courts as per the Third Amendment Act 1984 – Chapter IVA, according to the letter signed by its president Noklentuba Ao and general secretary R Kimerio Yanthan. All of these, according to the NDBA, obtained the President’s approval on March 4, 1987.

The Nagaland Village Council Acts, 1978, however, merely established village courts, according to the NDA. The NDBA further stated that all districts in Nagaland have district customary courts run by dobashis, despite the fact that they are not formally established by the government.

The NDBA warned that the State’s special status would lead to conflict, and that the essence of Naga customs and traditions would be lost if proper steps were not taken to recognise and establish customary courts. As a result, the NDBA urged to the chief minister to establish customary courts in order to raise the Nagas’ standards.

Yanthan noted during the press conference that the law and justice department’s comment on customary courts was not particularly positive. However, he stated that, in light of Naga history and customary customs, essential procedures for customary courts should be implemented.

The nomenclature of the GBs joint customary court was neither spelled out in the Rules for Administration of Justice and Police in Nagaland, 1937 and amendments, nor in the Nagaland Village Council Act, 1978 and amendments, according to the department of law and justice.

As a result, the department determined that the joint customary court lacked legal authority to hear customary disputes. The department went on to say that Regulation 26 of the Nagaland Village Council (Fourth Amendment) Act, 2009 only authorised tribal councils to help the state government when it was requested, and that the term “joint Customary Court” was not mentioned in the rule

The department also noted that Chapter IVA (iii) of the Nagaland Rules of Administration of Justice and Police (Third Amendment) Act, 1984 provided for the establishment of district customary courts, despite the fact that Chapter IVA was exempted from notification via no.LAW-166/83 dated March 14, 1989.

As a result, the district customary court or district DBs customary court lacked legal authority to hear customary cases, the court decided. Yanthan estimated that there were roughly 600 DBs in Nagaland, with over 300 instances settled in a year in Kohima alone.

At the press conference, NDA vice-president Khunyü Rino and treasurer and DC’s personal assistant Lhaliezhü were also present.

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