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NDBA suggests Department to see affairs of Naga customs and tradition

Nagaland DBs

KOHIMA, NOVEMBER 22: The Nagaland Dobashis Association (NDBA) today suggested having a permanent department to oversee the affairs of Nagas as per the customs and traditions in the State.
On October 27 last, the NDBA through a representation had sought the intervention of the Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio to formally constitute customary courts in the State.

NDBA general secretary R Kemerio Yanthan said this in presence of NDBA president Noklentoba Ao, vice president Khrunyü Rino and treasurer Lhaliezhü during a press conference held in the conference hall of Hotel Crescent here.
Yanthan said having Customary Courts in Nagaland means safeguarding the rights, culture and traditions of the Nagas inter alia the premier status accorded to the State of Nagaland by Article 371(A).
Expressing that Nagaland State was an offshoot of the very foundation of unique customs and history, the idea of having unique courts should be on priority to preserve the age-old practices of the Nagas by the policy makers.
He said a permanent department to oversee the affairs of the Nagas as per the customs and traditions is felt altogether more important for the State of Nagaland.
He said in the absence of Customary Courts in Nagaland the essence embedded in our customs and traditions would steadily vanish as cases which cannot be tried by the village courts shall directly end up in the hands of experts.
“It is a wonder which court would administer swearing of oath and judgements between villages and parties on cases not triable by the village courts”, he said.

Nagas feel so dear and close to the customs and traditions upon which the State of Nagaland was created, he said adding besides the village court at the lower level, the Customary Courts as an agency/institution at the Block, Division and District levels of the Government are responsible in safeguarding the unique customs and traditions of the Nagas by way of dispensing justice to the people.
Though not formally recognised by the Government, Customary Courts had been adjudicating cases of customary nature and it is the only court in the State which dispenses justice in accordance with the customs and traditions of the Nagas, he said.
Yanthan went on to state that Customary Courts which have evolved out of the continued practices of accepted behaviour and standards within communities stands as an institution between the Village Court, and Session Court and High Court.
“The Customary Courts adjudicate cases which are not triable by the village courts and settled them according to the practices and usages of the Nagas till today”, he said.
Among many cases, land disputes are more prominent which are dealt with by the Customary Courts; swearing of oath is the final and highest form for settlement of any cases, he said.

Some of cases settled by customary courts which could not be finalized by the High Court includes, land dispute between Yaong village and Orangkong village; Land dispute between Yangsithong ‘A’ village (Sangtam and ‘B” village (Sumi); Boundary dispute between Pongo Phom and Longching Konyak; Boundary dispute between Jalukie village and Peren village under Peren district.
Customary courts decide cases of customary nature based on merit and truthfulness while it is people-friendly and accessible by any person. The fees realised from the petitioner are cheap and judgements passed are quick and with integrity, he said.
Nagas are governed by the customs and traditions, which are acceptable standards of behaviour acknowledged by the Nagas, he said.
Generally, he said customary laws are not written, but transmitted through oral traditions and practices while since time immemorial, indigenous Naga people have regulated the societies by internal social-political and cultural structures and processes.
These customs and traditions were passed on from one generation to the next, eventually evolving into Customary laws that are enforced by the community. Customary laws are very central and intrinsic to the very identity of the Nagas, he said.

Sharing the background of DBs formation in Nagaland, Yanthan said Dobashis was initially launched during the British Raj in the year 1879 in the then Naga hills by T Mitchell and H Hutton as interpreters and supervisors. The Dobashis were entrusted to function and execute the duties of the tribal courts on experimental basis in the year 1946-49 in regard to the administration and delivery of justice to disputing people.
And on successful experimentation, the tribal court was named to Dobashis courts in 1950, he said.
Ever since the British Government set foot on the Naga Hills special status was given to the Dobashis for operation of customary laws and the judiciary, which had been continuing absolutely uninterrupted till today, he said.
As such the administration and judiciary under the British Empire in the Naga Hills was simplified by appointing GBs and DBs, he said.
(Page News Service)