CM Rio says ‘appeal for exemption’
KOHIMA, SEPTEMBER 11: Members of Nagaland Legislative Assembly today thoroughly deliberated on the implications of proposed Uniform Civil Code (UCC) and called for passing of a firm resolution rejecting it however Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio suggested making an appeal to the Central Government to ‘exempt’ Nagaland.
Initiating the discussion on matters of urgent public importance in the Assembly today, NPF MLA Kuzholuzo (Azo) Nienu said 2 important issues surround UCC – Rights and equality of citizens on the one hand and on the other, national integration.
These are important, no doubt, but any attempt to force it on the diverse communities across the country will be futile and counterproductive, he said.
Expressing that UCC is a direct threat, to the fabric of a communitarian tribal ethos and values, he said “to impose it on us is to dismiss our culture as primitive, uncivilised and inhuman and it questions our ability to find a solution from within to address human problems including rights and equality and to contribute to nation building at large”.
UCC is a subject matter propounded by BJP (RSS), which is deeply rooted in Hindutva, is the foundation for totalitarian rule by a dictator, he said adding that Nagas must remember Uniform Law and Dictatorship are two sides of a coin.
UCC will remove pluralism and diversity and thereby it will fulfil BJP (RSS)’s one nation, one religion and one cultural dream that means the country is heading for a dictatorship rule if UCC is enforced throughout the Country, he said.
“Either that will be the end of minorities or disintegration of India, where our rights and equality will be foregone”, he said.
Azo said to impose UCC is to go against the basic norms and the preconditions that have gone into the making of the Indian Constitution itself like diversity, unity, federalism, secularism, etc.
It is betraying the hope and trust of the minorities, especially the tribal communities, for whom constitutional provisions, like article 371(A) or Sixth Schedule, have been provided to protect and promote our customs, values and practices, things which have given us a sense of identity, worth, belongingness and purpose, he said.
Today India is admired as a secular country because of its rich culture, heritage and diversity, why do we have to do away with this, he wondered.
As a legislator and representative of a tribal community from Nagaland, Azo said he vehemently opposes any threat, be it modern western individualistic or Indian majoritarian values and ethos, which are not only incompatible but also pose a threat to our tribal communitarian ethos and values.
On Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s verbal assurance to Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and his Cabinet, Azo urged the August House not to rely on verbal assurances but to pass a resolution rejecting the bill in toto.
Independent MLA Dr Neisatuo Mero said the UCC means one nation one law which is in the Indian Constitution under Article 44, more than 7 decades back it was known that it’s a threat to Social, Religion and customary laws and till today it remains as a threat and therefore, this should not bind us from the liberty of being a tribesmen as Nagas.
UCC is an indulgence in the personal law such as personal scriptures, marriage, divorce, guardian and succession, which our right to religion and social practices of the Nagas and Customary Law and procedures are infringed, he said.
The implementation of the UCC also violates the Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the Constitution, including the Article 25 (Freedom to profess and practice one’s religion) and Article 29 (right to have a distinct culture), he said.
It also contradicts the provisions granted to States of Nagaland & Mizoram, he said.
Mero suggested for a firm resolution to oppose the UCC.
LJP (Ram Vilas) MLA Dr Sukhato A Sema said Nagaland is the only State in India that has entered into Indian Union through political negotiation; by signing the 16-Point Agreement and inserting a new clause in the Indian Constitution i.e. Article 371 (A).
Article 371 (A) gives a Special provision with respect to the State of Nagaland under which the NLA has a huge responsibility to shoulder in defending the land and people from invasion from external forces, he said.
Since time immemorial, any outsiders who tried to interfere in the internal affairs of the Nagas were met with stiff resistance, he said.
“Nagas have our own system of civil code which has governed our society and which we are comfortable with since time immemorial. We do not need new code to govern us which is likely to destroy our oneness in the future”, he said.
Supporting the Chief Minister and his Government’s effort, Sema urged the august house to pass a strong resolution in opposition to the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code in India or at least exempt Nagaland from the purview of its applicability, is written through Notification in the Gazette of India Extraordinary.
NCP Legislature Party leader, MLA Picto Shohe saying that UCC infringes upon the religious and cultural identity of the people and also the impacts the tribal State supported passing a resolution against it.
Minister for Parliamentary Affairs & Power and NDPP MLA KG Kenye, Advisor for Soil & Water Conservation and Information & Public Relations, and BJP MLA Imkong L Imchen, JDU MLA Jwenga Seb, NPF MLA Achumbemo Kikon, NDPP MLA & Advisor for Food & Civil Supplies K Tokugha Sukhalu, NPP Legislature Party leader, Nuklutoshi Longkumer and Advisor for Excise and Labour, Employment & Skill Development Moatoshi Longkumer also supported condemning the UCC in toto and passing a resolution.
Replying to the discussions, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said the apparent objective of the UCC is to have a single law on personal matters, such as marriage and divorce, custody and guardianship, adoption and maintenance, succession and inheritance, across the country, for all communities and religious groups, which in our view, shall pose a threat to our customary laws, social practices and the religious practices, which will be in danger of encroachment in the event of imposition of Uniform Civil Code;
Sensing the gravity and urgency of the matter especially with respect to the people of the State, Rio said his Government has, through a Cabinet decision, submitted its views to the 22nd Law Commission on July 4.
“We have conveyed our unambiguous opinion on the implementation of UCC in Nagaland and categorically submitted that Nagaland be completely exempted from the purview of UCC on the following grounds viz. the history of Nagaland which was provided certain protection since the pre-independent British era such as through the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations of 1873; the 9-point Agreement of 1947 on assurance of non-interference policy of Government of India in the Social & Religious Practices and Customary Laws of the people; the 16-Point Agreement which eventually led to the creation of the State of Nagaland while providing constitutional safeguards for the people of the State in terms of Religious or social Practices, Naga customary laws and practices, Administration of civil and criminal justice involving customary laws and Ownership and transfer of land and its resources.
“It was made very clear in the petition by the State Cabinet that “such an approach is a direct threat to the practice of our Customary Laws, Social Practices and the Religious Practices””, he said.
It is amply clear that UCC will have far-reaching implications across all sections and communities of the State and therefore the State Government felt it extremely necessary to have more broad-based deliberations and involve all stakeholders to gather their views and opinion, he said.
Accordingly, a Consultative Meeting with various stakeholders was organised on September 1 with the representatives of the Tribal Hohos and Organizations where they have all expressed their strong resentment and objection to the idea of having a UCC, he said.
In light of the legal opinion that the State Government has on UCC, and also the understanding of the entire matter, it appears that Nagaland will continue to be outside its purview, he said.
However, keeping in view the consultations with various stakeholders and after examining the apparent spirit and intent of the UCC, and taking into account the constitutional guarantees given to the State and its people under Article 371 (A0, there is a clear urgency for this House, which represents the voice of the people of the State, to convey the explicit position on the subject, he said.
Nonetheless, maintaining that the State Government being an ally of the BJP-led Government at the Centre, cannot oppose to the decision and policies of the Central Government, Rio therefore suggested that the Assembly “unanimously adopt and pass a resolution for exemption from the proposed enactment of UCC in its application to the State of Nagaland”.
Subsequently, NLA Speaker Sharingain Longkumer announced that the Government resolution can be brought to the August House tomorrow for consideration.
(Page News Service)