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“Local issues cannot be gender-negative”: SC to Nagaland Govt.

Supreme Court

DIMAPUR, FEBRUARY 23: The Supreme Court has given Nagaland Government 6 weeks to submit its proposal to implement 33% reservation for women in municipal bodies and town councils, according to reports.
The directive, issued on February 22, came attached with the warning that the apex Court was open to issuing a judicial order to secure 33% reservation for women if Nagaland Government fails to take its own steps.
A Bench comprising Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice MM Sundresh issued the order while hearing a petition filed by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and activist Rosemary Dzüvüchü who had challenged a resolution passed by Nagaland Assembly on September 22, 2012, exempting operation of Part IX-A of the Constitution that mandates 33% reservation for women in municipal and town councils in the State.
While listing the next hearing of the case on April 12, the Bench warned that any non-compliance would be treated as a violation of the Court’s order.
“Please do it. This matter will not get adjourned. Local issues cannot be gender-negative. I’m conveying it in very uncertain terms that we will do it”, said Justice Kaul.
In its order, the Bench stated: “We note with great regret that an important aspect of gender equality seems to be getting postponed and a decade has passed on that behalf.”
Reports further stated that the Nagaland Election Commission had submitted a note during the hearing, saying that it was aggrieved by Nagaland Government not responding to its requests.
In the note, the Commission cited the failure of Nagaland Government to respond to its request to change the legislation to adopt electoral rolls of Parliament in Assembly Elections for use in local body election and the Election Commission providing requisite additional fields in existing rolls to enable ward-wise segregation of voters; to take up amendment of Section 33 and 34 of the Nagaland Municipal Act, 2001 in line with Department of Justice and Law’s observation; and to conduct a summary revision of E-rolls for 3 municipal councils, 29 town councils and fresh E-rolls for the newly created town councils in the State.
It also pointed out that the last summary revision was done in 2016 which has led to a huge gap in the available old data and the creation of 7 new town councils through a Government notification on November 13, 2019.
After perusing the note, the Bench remarked that the report reflects the State Government’s lackadaisical attitude.
Nagaland’s Advocate General KN Balgopal submitted that the Committee “formed to further the object of holding elections for municipalities and town councils in the State in accordance with Section 23A of the Nagaland Municipal (First Amendment) Act, 2006” had completed the exercise.
Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the petitioners, submitted that the recommendations were that men would nominate women, something which was naturally not acceptable.
Balgopal, while objecting to the statement, submitted that due to his indisposition, he could not visit Nagaland and sought 6 weeks’ time.
With regards to the aspect of nomination, the Bench said: “We can only say it is reassuring for us that learned Counsel for the State submits that it is not so because such a proposal to be made or accepted, it would not take us much time to quash the same”.
The Bench also asked Nagaland Government to point out the date for completion of the exercise in the next hearing.
Directions were also issued to respond to the letters of the State Election Commission within 2 weeks.
(Page News Service)