Corruption in public life is a gross violation of human rights. Corruption is anti-poor, anti-economic development, anti-life and anti-national too. Corruption is the major factor retarding the progress of our State of Nagaland and responsible for lakhs of people to live below poverty line despite astronomical amount of money being spent on developments. Corruption and mal-administration are like twin sisters each acts compliment to the other. It is corruption that has ruined Nagaland. Corruption has retarded Nagaland to be the youngest State in the North East India today despite being senior to few neighbour States by not less than 9 years.
By corruption, the people of Nagaland are classified as the privileged and the non-privileged, the Govt. employee-able clan and the Govt. non-employee-able clan as if people from one clan are eligible all the time and from the other clan remains non-eligible. By this new culture, there seems to be some individuals being serving in more than one Department of the State Govt. simultaneously, that is, dual jobs held by a single individual. There also seems to be that some cadres of Naga National workers are employees of State Govt. By the new culture, there are royal clans and royal families mushroomed in Naga society seizing all the facilities be it Govt. jobs or financial benefits. By the prevailing culture, the State of Nagaland has been virtually hijacked by these royal clans and royal families leaving the rest absolute majority of the population high and dry.
I cannot vouch that the Congress regime some 16 years ago was the best. In fact it was found wanted, and yet there was the system of governance. Contrary to what existed in governance yesterday, today, the system of governance has been in haywire. Corruption is indeed a common phenomenon, and yet if the system is preserved, recovery hereafter will be faster. Indeed, it is painful to observe how daring and casual are the present leaders, both elected and appointed, in destroying the system. To cite one example, just for a business venture under School Education Department, the State Cabinet was convinced to remove the Suo Moto power from Vigilance Commission in June, 2016 during the NPF regime, and the power restoration was done through law court. The story of corruption is endless.
In order to checkmate corruption, the Govt. of India introduced Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayukta in the States. This law, in principle, was approved by the Union Govt. and yet the practical enforcement was delayed by not establishing the Lokpal paraphernalia for years according to the convenience of the authorities manning the governance. The lackadaisical attitude of the Union Govt. attracted the attention of the Gandhian social activist Anna Hazare to undertake fast in Delhi a fortnight ago urging the BJP Govt. to establish the Lokpal Commission. Once the Lokpal and Lokayukta are appointed as anti-corruption ombudsman establishment, it cannot be dismissed nor transferred by the Govt. at will. As for Lokaukta, the State Govt. has to resort to impeachment when the situation demands through Legislative Assembly only.
On the 23rd February, 2019, the Nagaland Assembly passed the Nagaland Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill 2019. This Bill, when enacted, will be the anti-corruption law, and when it is enforced impartially and effectively, it will spare nobody irrespective of status. So, this law is in the best interest of the people. The Lokayukta will be a major deterrent to corrupt prone politicians and bureaucrats. Whereas, the local papers carried a report on 24.2.2019 relating to the said Bill, and I quote ‘Out of the four amendments made, the most important is the including(inclusion) of Section 32-A which states “In all case where there are difficulties experienced in the implementation of this Act, provisions in this Act and the rules made there under shall be relaxed to the extent desirable by the Chief Minister”. Unquote.
My first question is therefore, how the veto power is given to the Chief Minister by designation? The amendment to the Act has given the overriding and sweeping powers to the Chief Minister of Nagaland to selectively choose the corruption related cases for exemption and investigation. This Lokaykta will then be the best weapon for the Chief Minister to fend his business, political and bureaucratic cronies and injudiciously use the same against the marked adversaries. Will the Nagaland’s Lokayukta not become the most protective law for corrupts? Will not the corrupts henceforth take refuge under the Lokayukta than facing the wrath of the law? Will not the Act transform the elected head of the State to become the dictators like late Saddam Hussain of Iraq or Maduro of Venezuela? In my layman’s understanding of the context of the amendment, such law can be misused by anyone as the Chief Minister. Also, how the NPF, as opposition party, reacted to the amendment? If not by oversight, I did not come across NPF opposing the very amendment. Are both the benches-Treasury and Opposition, afraid of the Act and thus passed it to make it remained the weakest Lokayukta which cannot sting anyone hereafter? If so, Nagaland does not require obsolete laws.
My second question is how the Chief Minister of Nagaland intends to enforce the ILP in Dimapur District as his statement was published by local papers dated 26.2.2019. Quote. “…the indigenous people of the northeast region would not be affected even if the ILP was implemented in Dimapur”. “….native people from the north eastern region should be exempted so that the sense of belonging would be there”.
The BEFR of 1873 commonly known as Inner Line Permit (ILP) is a mere entry permit for a visitor from outside Nagaland. The very purpose of ILP is therefore well known to everyone and I do not need to highlight. As a welfare Govt., it is good to be magnanimous and yet when it pertains to the survival of the indigenous people of Nagaland, the very interest of the sons of the soil should not be mortgaged for magnanimity. If the enforcement of ILP over Dimapur District is to be different as intended, the law of ILP has to be accordingly relaxed by amendment in the Assembly.
Whereas, the fear of flooding Nagaland by people from outside are those from NE States. Not much will intrude into our State from distant States other than NE States. Those who have already landed and about to land are mostly from NE States. Those outsiders who are already in Nagaland are the indigenous citizens of NE States, and those who will definitely come will have the same status. We are talking about illegal immigrants, however, we have adequate laws to resist and deport that category of people. When those people are detected and deported, the GOI will stand by us. Whereas, we cannot take similar action against those indigenous citizens of any State in India under ILP. The only mechanism under ILP is to restrict the entry of outsiders into our land who are not indigenous citizens of Nagaland for the reason that taking advantage of 15 days visit pass by one and remained in our State and die here used to be the practice.
If at all, what is intended by the Govt. as for enforcement of ILP over Dimapur is to be the system, it is as good as not bringing Dimapur District under ILP Zone as such will never bring change to demographical nature of the district in question. Dimapur remains to be the depot of storing the non-indigenous people who used to intrude into Nagaland as has been for decades, and the extension of ILP zone over Dimapur with the proposed system will make no difference at all. Is PDA really sincere to use the ILP for its bona fide citizens or use the same law for protection of beloved outsiders?
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