27th February, 2023
From loincloth to wardrobe and machete to pen/technology, Nagas have come a long way. Breaking the barriers of separation based on clans and tribes, Nagas have successfully adapted the change of time. However, it has now become essential for every right thinking Nagas to pause and ponder whether ‘Evolution’ in its truest sense has taken place during these 59 years of existence or just mere ‘Adaptation’ of mode of living of the advanced race without any basis is the ugly bitter truth.
Reasonable time has lapsed but the reality is still evidently adverse. Nagaland as a State will truly be independent when every Naga starts to think reasonably and act responsibly. It is time for every Naga to realize that every individual is a necessary component of our Naga society. It is when every Naga starts to understand that ‘prosperity of an individual can only be said to be positive when it favours the enhancement of the society and not contrary’ can there be any reformation.
With the 14th Nagaland Legislative Assembly Election around the corner, it is very important for every eligible Nagas to retrospect the phase and outcome of our 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly Election. The genuine deplorable condition of the State of Nagaland is not unknown. It would not be wrong to admit that the Nagas are still unitedly separated by choice. Therefore, it is a reasonable time to know and disseminate the structure of our democratic system under the Union of India;
State: Article 12 of the Constitution of India define the State as the Government and Parliament of India and the Government and the Legislature of each of the State and all local or other authorities within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India.
State Legislature: Article 168 of the Constitution of India provides for the constitution of Legislatures in States consisting of the Governor and two House or one House. The two House of the Legislature of a State are Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly. There is only a Legislative Assembly in the State of Nagaland comprising of 60 members chosen by direct election as provided by Article 170 of the Constitution of India.
Qualification & Disqualification For Legislative Assembly
Article 173 provides that a citizen of India who is not less than 25 years of age and possess such other qualifications as prescribed by law made by the Parliament as qualified for membership in the Legislative Assembly of a State. Section 5 of the Representations of the People Act, 1951 (the Act of 1951 in brevity) further provides that to be a member of Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes and an elector for any Assembly Constituency in that State to be a member of Legislative Assembly in the case of a seat reserved for any of those Castes or Tribes. It may be mentioned that Article 332 provides for reservation of seats in the Legislative Assemblies of the States for Scheduled Cates and Scheduled Tribes. Out of the existing 60 seats in the Nagaland Legislative Assembly, 59 seats are reserved for the Scheduled Tribes of Nagaland under Article 332 (3A) except Dimapur-1 Constituency.
Disqualifications under Article 191 are person holding any office of profit under the Government of India or State, unsound mind, undischarged insolvent, not a citizen of India, disqualified by or under any law made by Parliament and disqualified under the Tenth Schedule. Chapter III of the Act of 1951 also provides for disqualification if a person is convicted of an offence under any law made by Parliament. From the date of conviction, such person shall be disqualified which shall continue for a further period of 6 years since his release. Some other grounds for disqualification are corrupt practices at the election, corruption or disloyalty by the employee of the Government of India or State, unfinished contract with the appropriate Government, agents of any Company or Corporation where the appropriate Government holds 25% or more and on failure to lodge account of election expenses.
Election & Right To Vote
Article 326 of the Constitution of India provides for election of members to the Legislative Assembly on the basis of adult suffrage (right to vote) by persons who is a citizen of India and not less than 18 years of age.
Right to Vote is a Constitutional as well as Statutory Right. Article 19(1)(a) provides for right of expression which ultimately facilitate the right of the people to elect and to vote. Section 62 of the Act of 1951 also provides for right to vote.
The Act of 1951 introduced free and fair electoral system. Part IV of the Act of 1951 deals with the corrupt practices and electoral offences and the same are extracted herein below:
Section 123: Corrupt Practices
Bribery: Any gift, offer or promise made by a candidate or his agent or his accomplices to induce a person to stand or not to stand as candidate at an election and an elector to vote or refrain from voting at an election would deem to have committed the offence.
Undue Influence: Any attempt or interferences made by a candidate or his agent or his accomplices with the free exercise of any electoral right would deem to have committed the offence.
Animosity: A candidate or his agent or his accomplices appealing to vote or refrain from voting for any person on the ground of his religion, race, caste, community or language OR the appeal or use of religious symbols, national symbols for furtherance of the prospects of that candidate shall deem to have committed the offence.
Excess Expenditure: Failure to keep a separate and correct account of all expenditure in connection with the election and also exceeding the prescribed expenditure amount of Rs. 28 Lakh by the Election Commission of India for small State such as Nagaland shall deem to have committed the offence.
Booth Capturing: Any candidate or his agent or his accomplices capturing electoral booth for the furtherance of the prospects of that candidate shall deem to have committed the offence.
Penalties For Electoral Offences Under The Act Of 1951
Section 125 prescribes a punishment with imprisonment upto 3 years or fine or with both for any person who promotes enmity between classes in connection with election.
Section 127 prescribes a punishment with imprisonment upto 6 months or with fine to any person who causes disturbances at any election meetings.
Section 128 prescribes a punishment with imprisonment upto 3 months or with fine to any vote recording agents or person who contravenes with maintenance of secrecy of voting.
Section 130, 131 & 132 prohibits canvassing, disorderly conduct & misconduct in or near any polling station as punishable with fine which may extend to Rs. 250/- and with imprisonment upto 3 months or with fine, respectively.
Section 132A further provide for cancellation of the ballot paper of any elector who fails to observe procedure for voting.
Section 134A prescribes an imprisonment upto 3 months or with fine for Government servants for acting as election agent, polling agent or counting agent.
Section 134B also prescribes imprisonment upto 2 years or with fine for any unauthorized person who is armed near a polling station.
Retrospection: In all fairness, the outcome of 27.2.2023 is going to govern every citizen for the coming 1825 days. Should not every right thinking citizen be mindful of the fact that it is time for amendment? It is not reasonable to accept that it is time to be futuristic rather than being materialistic. The old fashion of election has to be done away with by equipping ourselves with the aforementioned basic legal principles. Surrendering our right to elect and vote at the disposal of the corrupt will only ensure the replication of the present condition. Expecting changes in Nagaland without changing first is an appeasement of a fool. We must raise above the walls of clan, tribe, community and money politics. “We must stop ourselves from giving in to our WANTS and start dealing with our NEEDS”. As a successful Society or State is not built in a day, it is the aspiration of the citizens which has the might to alter the course of journey to a desired harbour. Nagaland deserves better so does every denizen. The antidote to all our grievances is Good Governance which is plausible if every eligible voters exercise his/her franchise responsibly on 27.2.2023. Therefore, it is ardently appealed to every citizen to become the force in our quest for a beautiful, brighter and bounteous Nagaland.