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Art 371A must be strengthened: NVCO

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Submits representation to Governor

Dimapur, November 4: The Nagaland Voluntary Consumers’ Organization (NVCO) has appealed to the Governor of Nagaland, RN Ravi, who is also Government of India’s Interlocutor to Indo-Naga talks, to strengthen Article 371(A) of the Indian Constitution and also restore the Resolution of the Nagaland State Legislative Assembly on 26th July, 2010 in respect of “ownership and transfer of land and its resources” including mineral oil.
In a representation to the Governor today, the NVCO placed on record that Article 371-A is a special provision with respect to the State of Nagaland which was inserted in Part XXI of the Constitution of India.
The NVCO pointed out that as per Article 27.1 of Production Sharing Contract (PSC) under New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP), the Government of India is the sole owner of petroleum underlying the contract area and shall remain the sole owner of petroleum produced pursuant to the provisions of this contract except that part of crude oil, condensate or gas the title whereof has passed to the contractor or any other person in accordance with the provisions of this contract.
The Supreme Court in Reliance Industries Limited – Reliance Natural Resources Limited (RIL-RNRL) case has reiterated that all natural gas vests in the Union of India by virtue of Article 297.
But NVCO stated that in accordance with Article 371A of the Constitution of India, the Nagaland State Assembly on 26th July, 2010 has passed a Resolution that in respect of “ownership and transfer of land and its resources” including mineral oil, no Act of Parliament shall apply to the State of Nagaland, which shall make appropriate rules to apply and enforce within the State of Nagaland.
In this regard, Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India was of the opinion that the term “land and its resources” in Article 371A would include mineral oil and their resources and the State of Nagaland would have the power to frame its own laws regarding ownership and transfer of such land and resources under Article 371A.
NVCO president Kezhokhoto Savi, Advocate, said against this, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, has issued an Office Memorandum dated New Delhi 23rd May 2013 wherein it was stated that, “Article 371A (a) does not confer legislative power to the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland on regulation and development of mineral oil. The power to make law in respect of subject covered under List-1 of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, including entry 53 of List-1 rests with the Parliament. Therefore, the resolution passed by the Nagaland Legislative Assembly is unconstitutional and invalid”.
NVCO said the 16 Point Agreement unanimously adopted by the representatives of 16 Naga tribes in the 3rd Naga Peoples’ Convention (NPC) held in Mokokchung town from 22nd to 26th October 1959, which was placed before the Prime Minister of India is a matter of Naga historical and political record. “It is observed that the bilateral 16 Point Agreement of 1960 and Article 371A is slowly fading and practically eroding by arbitrary dictates of the Government of India. The NVCO states that it is very unfortunate that the reality is that the Government of India is overriding and destroying the so called special provision ‘Article 371A’ at every turn on its own motion unilaterally,” it said.
NVCO stated that it is the right time the Interlocutor and also Governor of Nagaland RN Ravi take this eroding of Article 371A and its related matters with the Government of India on a war footing to the extent that no Act of Parliament shall apply the State of Nagaland and the term “land and its resources” in Article 371A will include mineral oil and their resources.
The NVCO appealed to the Government of India to ensure that the State of Nagaland have the power to frame its own laws regarding ownership and transfer of such land and resources including mineral oil under Article 371A. “The land and its resources including mineral oil, gas and petroleum should belong to the people of Nagaland and no act of Parliament shall apply to the state in this respect,” it added. (Page News Service)

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