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Another milestone: SC asks Nagaland to fix ULB polls with ‘Women Quota’ date by July

Nagaland News

Nirendra Dev
NEW DELHI, APRIL 12: The male bastion crumbles ultimately.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday, April 12, directed Nagaland Government to fix date for polls for Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) wherein reservation ought to be granted to women and also apprise the apex Court about the schedule of elections on next date of hearing in July.
“State to tell us the date of elections in the next hearing. You cannot take it so long. First week after reopening after summer recess. Chapter must close by September-October”, the Bench said.
The State Government through its Counsel told the Bench of Justice SK Kaul and Justice M Sundresh that a resolution has been adopted to hold ULB polls with 33% quota for women at a consultative meeting held on March 9 by the State Government where all the stakeholders were present.
“The State Election Commission submits that they have already initiated a process of summary revision (of electoral roll) which will take place in two months”, the Court said and asked the State Government to apprise about the schedule of elections on the next date of hearing.
The Supreme Court is likely to have summer vacation from May 23 to July 10 and would resume sitting from July 11, 2022.
The State Government informed the apex Court that it has agreed to implement 33% reservation for women in civic bodies.
“A resolution was passed affirmed by the Chief Minister and the others that we should go ahead with the 74th Amendment giving reservation of 33% to women”, the State Counsel said.
The top Court said that with this there is no impediment in holding of elections providing reservation for women, but maintained the authorities were going “very very slow” on the matter.
“We have also pursued the affidavit of compliance in which it is stated that on March 16, 2022 a meeting was held in regard to elections for urban local bodies after taking into account the direction of this Court the State Election Commission was intimated to use State Assembly electoral rolls as the basis for municipal elections and intensively update the same on account of the large gap since the last elections”.
It is worth mentioning that the Supreme Court had earlier rapped the Nagaland Government over the delay to enforce reservation for women in the State’s urban local bodies.
In 2017, the State Government’s efforts to go ahead with polls was vehemently opposed chiefly in Kohima and Dimapur with violent protest and this also led to the resignation of TR Zeliang as the Chief Minister.
The State Election Commission had earlier told the apex Court that no response had been received from the State Government in pursuance to the office letter to provide requisite additional fields in existing rolls to enable ward-wise segregation of voters.
Last month representatives from across the Naga society ‘unanimously agreed’ that elections to urban local bodies (ULBs) should be held with 33% quota for women ~ a move which was vehemently opposed in 2017.
The resolution was adopted during a consultative meeting of all stakeholders including mass-based civil society organisations, churches, tribal bodies, political parties and NGOs convened by the State Government in the presence of legislators at Kohima.
It was attended by more than 150 Naga leaders and intellectuals.
At the consultative meeting, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and Advocate General KN Balgopal tried to explain to the gathering that the 74th Amendment is different and will not infringe on rights guaranteed by Article 371 (A) as was circulated earlier.
According to sources, even on Tuesday (April 12) hearing the Court was not quite happy with the delay.
At one point it was remarked that the ‘chapter must close by September-October’.
When the State Counsel reportedly tried to defer the poll dates to February, it was remarked, “It took six years to get here, it may take 12 years to conduct polls”.
The Counsel for the State Election Commission said the process of ‘summary revision’ of electoral roll has been initiated. The Bench said: “…the process will take two months. When will the poll schedule declared?”
The Court was also informed that five new districts and a few town councils have been created. At this, the Court remarked that things were going “very slow”.
Last month BJP nominee Phangnon Konyak was elected to Rajya Sabha making her the first Naga woman to enter the Upper House of Parliament and the second women lawmaker to enter Parliament after Rano Shaiza was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1977.
Since its statehood in 1963, the State of Nagaland has never had any woman legislator in the State Assembly.
Lately, the BJP sources have indicated that the party will work hard to ensure victory of at least one woman MLA in the next polls due in February-March 2023.
Nagaland also holds the record of adopting a unanimous resolution opposing the Bill for Women quota in State Legislatures and Parliament when SC Jamir was Chief Minister. The official resolution was moved by the then Parliamentary Affairs Minister Z Lohe.
(Page News Service)