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It’s Cong vs Cong on Village Bill!
From C K Nayak
NEW DELHI: It’s Congress versus Congress in Meghalaya!
The Congress controlled KHADC has accused the same party ruled State Government for obfuscating its stand on the controversial Village Administration Bill 2014 as passed by the District Council last year.
The newly-elected CEM, Pynshngaiñ N Syiem, who is here to press AICC leaders to put the much vaunted pressure from High Command, appears to have got the assurances from top Central leaders that the Bill will be made into a reality by persuading the State Government to commit it to the assent of the Governor at the earliest.
Syiem, who is also a Congress MLA accompanied by Shillong MP Vincent H Pala and others, met the general secretary in charge of the Hill State V Narayanasamy and complained about the State Government’s “failure” to take up the matter with the Governor even though the Council had duly codified the customary laws. The CEM is also armed with a detailed memorandum to Sonia Gandhi and waiting to seek her personal intervention to resolve the issue for the benefit of the tribals.
Pala had a meeting with Mrs Gandhi on this contentious issue and submitted her a detailed memorandum. The CEM, Pala, Narayanasamy and other top AICC leaders are expected to meet again on Wednesday to find out the legal remedy on this issue before moving to the party President again, AICC sources said adding Meghalaya Chief Minister will also be kept in the loop.
The CEM said that with the passing of an order by a single judge of the Meghalaya High Court in December last year, the customary powers of the headmen have been taken away much against the Constitutional protections enshrined in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution. In anticipation of such a collision course between customary laws of Meghalaya with the Anglo-Saxon ones, the KHADC, now dominated by the Congress party, passed a Village Administration Bill in June 2014 codifying the customary powers of village headmen, who are appointed by the village councils, he said.
It may be recalled that the State Government has been sitting on the Bill for a year without taking any action one way or the other. All it has said so far is that the Bill is “defective”. There is neither any clarification nor has the Bill been returned to KHADC.
“The customary powers are more than a century old and for a long duration were under the sagacious protection of the Congress Party, the champion of the tribals’ cause,” the CEM said. However, despite the passage of the aforesaid Bill by the KHADC, which has the mass approval, the Congress ruled Government has failed to forward the same to the Governor as required under paragraph 3(3) of the Sixth Schedule thereby frustrating the Bill from becoming an Act.
“Had this Bill become an Act, there would not have been this unseemly controversy of the Meghalaya High Court striking down a century old customary practice and powers of headmen in the State,” Syiem said.