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HC directs Chief Secretary, Home Commissioner to file compliance report on Seyochung customary rights case

Nagaland News

DIMAPUR, DECEMBER 5: The Kohima Bench of Gauhati High Court on Monday directed Chief Secretary J Alam and Home Commissioner Abhijit Sinha to file within two weeks a compliance report in the ongoing hearing on a dispute related to the “claim of customary rights of the original inhabitance” at Seyochung Village in Kiphire District.
An order issued by Justice LS Jamir warned that the said compliance report is not filed by the next hearing, the Court will pass appropriate order for personal appearance of the Chief Secretary and the Home Commissioner. The next hearing will be on January 20 next year.
Previously, on September 16, the Court had granted Nagaland Government four weeks’ time to take a decision on the dispute. “It is made clear that all decisions taken by the Government in regard to the case shall be placed before the Court on the next date fixed”, it had stated then.
When the matter was listed again on October 31, the Bench rescheduled it to December 5.
This particular case pertains to a Contempt of Court petition filed on October 30, 2019 against the Chief Secretary, the Commissioner of Nagaland, and the Home Commissioner by a resident of Dimapur, Inashe Awomi.
According to Court records, “certain dispute arose in Seyochung Village amongst two tribes i.e. Sumi and Sangtam relating to claim of customary rights of the original inhabitance of the village” and the contesting parties had approached the Court by filing writ petitions.
“The said petitions were disposed of on the ground that already a one-man Enquiry Committee was constituted to resolve the issues and report was submitted before the Government. The said enquiry was ordered to ascertain the tribal status of certain persons who were seeking indigenous inhabitants/Scheduled Tribes and Backward Tribes Certificate in Seyochung Village.
“As the enquiry report was already there, this Court by order dated November 28, 2018 passed in WP (C) No. 222(K)/2018 directed the Chief Secretary, Nagaland and Home Commissioner, Nagaland to pass appropriate order within a period of three months from the order dated November 28, 2018 in terms of the report of the one man Enquiry Committee”, it stated.
During the course of Court hearings (22 times since the case was first filed), the Court was informed that the report of one-man Enquiry Committee was placed before the State Cabinet, who after deliberation decided to form a Cabinet Sub Committee to facilitate and make efforts to bring the two groups together in the interest of peaceful coexistence at Seyochung. This was contained in a communication from the Home Commissioner.
“The communication further reveals that the report was submitted through a Cabinet Memorandum dated December 18, 2020 which was subsequently deliberated in the Cabinet meeting held on March 11, 2021. After deliberation, the Cabinet decided to have a discussion in the next Cabinet meeting.
“Since then, nothing has proceeded though the Home Commissioner, Nagaland, is trying to make an explanation that the Cabinet Memorandum was again submitted before the Cabinet in the month of April, 2021; however, due to 2nd wave of COVID-19, the matter could not be immediately taken up for consideration”, it stated.
Back then, the Court had noted that the report was submitted in the October 2020 by the Cabinet Sub Committee “and we are in the month of April 2022, and thus two years have, in the meantime, elapsed”.
“This Court is not happy with the explanation of the Home Commissioner…The State Cabinet being the highest decision making authority on the issue in hand, it is its prerogative to take a call”, it remarked.
On July 21 last, when the Court heard the matter again, it was informed that members of the Cabinet Sub-Committee had visited Seyochung Village and met with representatives of both parties ~ Seyochung Village Council and displaced Sumi community members of Seyochung Village ~ separately, and a brief report to that effect was submitted.
“From the brief report, it transpires that the Seyochung Village Council assured the Cabinet Sub-Committee members to the effect that they would consult the matter with the general public of Seyochung Village and would intimate the Government accordingly. The brief report has further highlighted that a copy of the recommendations and findings submitted by the Cabinet Sub-Committee to the Government was handed over to the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Seyochung, in order to enable any of the parties to seek clarification by making reference of such recommendations and findings”, it stated.
On that day, the Additional Advocate General submitted that he has not received any instruction as to whether Seyochung Village Council has reverted to the Government after consultation with the general public of Seyochung Village.
He, therefore, sought for 2 weeks’ time to enable him to obtain a copy of the report of the Cabinet Sub Committee submitted to the Government containing the recommendations and findings; the instructions as to whether Seyochung Village Council has reverted to the Government after consultation with the general public of Seyochung Village “in the matter of re-settlement of members of the displaced Sumi community in Seyochung Village”; and any further steps taken by the Cabinet Sub-Committee.
When the matter was heard again on August 30, the Court had extended it by another two weeks to wait for the “report of the steps taken by the Cabinet Sub-Committee”.
Since then the Government is yet to submit its response to the Court.
(Page News Service)