The Joint Coordination Committee on Urban Local Bodies (ULB) has reaffirmed its January 23, 2017 memorandum to the chief minister opposing the conduct of ULB elections until the Nagaland Municipal Act, 2001 is reviewed and amended.
In a statement, JCC convenor Luolao Usou and secretary W Rainbow Ngullie praised the State government’s decision to review the Nagaland Municipal Act, 2001, which governs the conduct of elections to ULBs, and urged the government to speed up the process of submitting the final report of the Cabinet Sub-Committee tasked with the task in 2017.
The JCC recalled that the state had seen social unrest and protests following the ULB election, which included a 33 percent reservation for women on municipal and town councils, as well as the imposition of a property/wealth tax.
JCC expressed regret that the contentious issue of reviewing the Nagaland Municipal Act remained unresolved, and that the State’s ULBs were operating without public representation following their dissolution.
ULB elections have become a contentious issue, according to JCC, not only because of conceptual differences among stakeholders, but also because of multiple referential integrity.
The legitimate issues to be considered, according to JCC, are how to determine the common good and aspirations of Naga people in the context of their traditions and cultural references, and how to socially appropriate them in relation to the ongoing issue of the ULB election with 33 percent reservation for women and the imposition of a property tax.
The Naga people did not accept the State government’s November 18, 2021 notification to form advisory councils to various municipal and town councils with 33 percent nominated women members for an interim period, according to JCC.
It stated that because this could result in a new situation, the government’s decision needed to be examined in the context of Naga people’s interests and demands.
The Nagaland Municipal Act also allowed the State government to nominate people with special knowledge or experience in municipal administration, but their number was limited to one-fifth of the elected members, according to JCC.
The government’s decision to nominate people to run ULBs without duly elected representatives, according to JCC, would be a violation of both constitutional and Nagaland Municipal Act provisions.
Furthermore, in the absence of popularly-elected representatives, nominated members would not have legal authority to run the affairs of ULBs, according to JCC.
JCC informed that on November 23, 2021, it held a consultative meeting at Tourist Lodge Dimapur with Dimapur-based tribal hohos, unions, Eastern Nagaland People’s Union Dimapur, and Dimapur Unit of Tenyimi People’s Organisation to discuss the unresolved ULB issue with specific reference to the government notification.
The meeting discussed Naga people’s resentment of the Nagaland Municipal Act and demanded that it be reviewed or amended.
The meeting unanimously agreed that the ULB election would not be held until the Cabinet Sub-Committee decision was received.
The committee also urged the government to revoke or recall the government’s November 18, 2020 notification proposing the formation of advisory councils to various municipal and town councils with 33 percent nominated members for women.
The committee also urged the State government to make the Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) report on the deaths of four people in the January 31, 2017 shooting incident public.
The JCC stated that it would not accept the government’s decision to appoint advisory council members and hold ULB elections until the Cabinet Sub-decision Committee’s to review/amend the Nagaland Municipal Act and the JIC report were made public.
The leaders of the committee warned that if the government did not consider their demands, they would take appropriate action until the Naga people’s rights and demands were met.
JCC claimed that Nagas were granted special status under Article 371(A) of the Indian Constitution, which allowed Nagas to interpret the provision according to their own customs and traditions.
It also stated that on February 7, 2017, apex Naga civil society organisations mandated and endorsed JCC to express Naga people’s opposition to the application of the Nagaland Municipal Act, 2001 in its current form, which would infringe on Article 371’s basic rights (A).
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