Kohima: Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on Wednesday said that the ‘16-point Agreement’ provided for the Tribal Councils to be an appellate authority for customary laws and it would be appropriate for un-resolvable matters or disputes and matters involving customs and relating to Naga tribes to be entrusted to a Tribal body (Naga Hohos) for resolution. In this connection, the Government decided to entrust the 14 Tribal Hohos of Nagaland to meet and discuss with the tribal leaders of both districts and resolve the matter as per customary practice and in the spirit of brotherhood.
Speaking at the State Government sponsored Consultative Meeting with the Tribal Hohos of Nagaland at the State Banquet Hall in the Chief Minister’s Residential Complex in Kohima on Wednesday, Rio, delivering the keynote address, stated that the long-pending demarcation of the administrative boundary between Peren and Dimapur districts needs to be discussed and settled amicably. He informed that the government in August 2019 had constituted a Cabinet sub-committee headed by Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Pangnyu Phom to meet all the stakeholders, and finalize the boundary between the two districts. The Cabinet sub-committee after due deliberations and looking into every aspect and the ground situation has suggested an administrative boundary.
However, he said that there have been reservations expressed on the proposed demarcation from people on both sides, citing their customs and traditions. Rio said that the 16-point Agreement provided for the Tribal Council to be an appellate authority for customary laws and it would be appropriate for un-resolvable matters or disputes and matters involving customs and relating to Naga tribes to be entrusted to a Tribal body for resolution. In this connection, the Government decided to entrust the 14 Tribal Hohos of Nagaland to meet and discuss with the tribal leaders of both districts and resolve the matter as per customary practice and in the spirit of brotherhood.
On Naga Tribunal, he said that as per the 16-point agreement, a Naga Tribunal at the State level can act as an Appellate Authority for the cases to be decided according to customary law. Such a Tribunal consisting of those who have expertise in customary law can help settle many cases, which are of a complex nature, and which would not be easily decided in modern Courts. He also stressed on the need for documentation and codification of the traditional laws as it will provide clarity on where the traditional laws can be invoked, and where other laws, central or State laws, would need to be invoked. With the likelihood of having a separate High Court in the near future, there is a need to codify the customary laws urgently to avoid any possibility of confusion or over-lapping of cases, he added.
Highlighting on the implementation of Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN), he stated there has been discussion on the need to implement RIIN to protect the interests and rights of the Nagas and at the same time, we need to ensure that all rightful citizens of India should not be denied what is justifiably their rights. He added that the decision should be well thought out, and should not cause any panic, chaos or harassment to anyone or the community.
On the issue of Women Reservation and Urban Local Body (ULB) elections, Rio said that it has turned into an ugly controversy. He added that there the Government has not been able to hold elections to the urban local bodies since 2008 and the last effort to hold ULB elections in 2017 resulted in widespread agitation, and unfortunate incidents, leading to serious law and order problems. Following that, a Cabinet Sub-Committee was constituted in August 2018 to study the problem, and suggest ways to resolve the issue, but it could not make any meaningful progress on resolving this issue. By not holding the ULB elections, Rio informed that the State is deprived of substantial grants under the Finance Commission for under taking various developmental activities.
Rio stated that, as the society progresses, there is a need for new institutions, such as ULBs and that we cannot become prisoners of our traditions. He requested the Tribal Hohos to take the issue of women reservation in our ULBs in the right spirit, and to resolve the matter so that elections to ULBs can be held at the earliest.
The Chief Minister highlighting on the institution of Gaon Bura said the needs of urban settlements are quite different from rural areas and villages. He stated that the nomenclature of Gaon Bura in a town its