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Some points to ponder on the ‘Ar-Maloi’ (dual post) issue

 

By Fabian Lyngdoh

     Some said that ‘The Prevention of Disqualification (Members of Legislative Assembly of Meghalaya) Amendment Bill, 2015 intrudes into the domain of the District Council, while to the unprejudiced minds this Bill concerns itself with the MLAs in the Legislative Assembly, and not with the MDCs in the District Council. The Bill does not imply that no MDC should at the same time be an MLA, but that no MLA should at the same time be an MDC. Under the District Council’s law an MDC may be allowed to be at the same time an MLA, but under the proposed State law, no MLA is allowed to be an MDC at the same time. So it is not the State law that intrudes into the domain of the District Council, but it is the prejudiced minds of those who support the present Executive Committee of the KHADC that intrudes into the domain of the State Legislative Assembly. Organisations like ‘The Synjuk Rangbah Shnong’ have nothing with which to involve themselves with this Bill of the State Legislative Assembly unless they have some private concern with the incumbent MLAs-cum-MDCs and are personally affected by it.

     The Indian law in general does not permit a person to hold two or more offices of profit under the Government at the same time. Each one of us has on an average only thirty days in a month, and twelve months in a year. If a person is paid for thirty days in a moth as MLA, and thirty days in a month as MDC then that person is being paid the wages of sixty days for a month that has only thirty days. Surely such persons, like Thoth the Egyptian god, must have tricked Re, the supreme God and invented twelve extra months in a year to lay twelve extra golden eggs in their salary pass books. Isn’t this a glaring injustice in the eyes of everybody?

     It is unbecoming of those political representatives who are personally affected by this Bill to say that its purpose is to weaken the fight for the ‘jaidbynriew’; a fight for whom and against whom? It was opined that the Federation of Tribal Dorbars (FTD) was constituted with an objective to fight against actions of the State Government and the Central Government which some of the MLAs-cum-MDCs termed as external forces. The MLAs-cum-MDCs by being MLAs are corporate members of the State Government, probably holding other posts in the State Government besides holding posts in the District Council. If the State Government is an external force seeking to destroy the Khasi tribe then why did the previous leaders fight so hard to achieve a Hills State? Why do all Toms, Dicks and Harrys now aspire to be MLAs in the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly and spend crores of rupees to get elected? It would have been better for the Khasi Hills to remain an Autonomous District with a strong District Council within the State of Assam.

     It is also opined that the Legislative Assembly has passed the Bill in spite of the protest by a minority opposition party. But the opposition party in Indian politics whether in miserable minority or in honourable minority would always oppose the official Bills brought in the House by the Treasury Bench. If the Treasury Bench has to listen to such logic of the Opposition Bench, then no law can be made anywhere in this country.

     This amendment bill of the State Legislative Assembly does not bar anyone to be an MDC and ‘lead the jaitbynriew’ as someone has ardently asserted. It is very simple. What they have to do is to resign from the post of MLA and lead the jaidbynriew as MDC. It is not necessary that a person should at the same time be an MLA if he thinks that he is called to lead the jaitbynriew as MDC is there is a sincere will to do so. Those who think that it is more honourable to be MLAs than MDCs (that is what really is in everybody’s minds) then let them resign from the post of MDC as those gallant gentlemen had done. The Khasi society, in any constituency is not lacking in competent leaders to replace them as MLAs or as MDCs, and our people would not be sorry with bye-elections, but they would always be heartily cooperating with festive mood, especially if bulging money-bags are involved in the fray.

     These MLAs-cum-MDCs got elected to both the posts not because the people loved them so much, or because there is a dearth of leaders in their constituencies but because being the MLAs, they had the power to threaten with hell even those who supported them in the MLA election if they do not support them again in the MDC elections too. They had also the power to promise the heavens to those who did not support them in the MLA election if they come and support them in the MDC election. As I said earlier, the will of the people exercised in fear and ignorance is not democracy but slavery.

   Some of these MLA-MDC incumbents may say that they had spent lots of money in both the elections to get elected; hence it is an injustice to compel them to resign before the expiry of their terms. But the Election Law has earmarked the limits of expenditure they had to incur in both the elections, and if they had spent crores of rupees to get elected then it is their own concern which they should not transfer to the jaidbynriew. If they attempt to show in black and white that they had spent crores of rupees to get elected, then they deserve not sympathy but disqualification of both the posts.

     It is also opined that since the PIL filed by Ms Agnes Kharshiing is pending in the High Court, so the Legislative Assembly cannot pass the Bill. The Judiciary cannot bar the Legislature to make necessary laws at any time, on grounds of pending cases provided that these laws are reasonable and do not contradict the basic tenets of the Constitution itself. This matter is clear in the Supreme Court ruling in T. Cajee Versus U Jormanik Siem, Case No. : 394 of 1960. The High Court passed an order staying the operation of the order of the District Council dated 7/07/1959 to suspend U Jormanik as the Syiem of Hima Mylliem, on the ground that the appointment and succession of a syiem was not an administrative function of the District Council and that it could only act by making a law under Paragraph 3(1)(g) of the Sixth Schedule with the assent of the Governor. In an appeal, the Supreme Court on the other hand, ruled that where executive power impinges upon the rights of citizens it will have to be backed by an appropriate law; but where executive power is concerned only with the personnel of the administration it is not necessary- even though it may be desirable-that there must be laws, rules or regulations governing the appointment of such personnel. Hence the power of appointment falls within the power of administration of the District Council, and with the power of appointment of personnel, hence the power of removal would necessarily follow as a corollary. Meanwhile while the issue is sub- judice, the District Council passed ‘The United Khasi Jaintia Hills Autonomous District (Appointment and Succession of Chiefs and Headmen) Act, 1959 (No. 11 of 1959), which came into force in October 1959. The Supreme Court ruled that there is now a valid law empowering the District Council to remove a syiem, and that a syiem would therefore be a chief within the meaning of this Act.

          It was 62 years ago in 1953 that the Disqualification Clause of the Representation of People’s Act 1951 was relaxed as a stop-gap arrangement because of the lack of competent leaders to fill up the posts. The Khasi society is not so miserably illiterate to make this special concession still relevant today. So, even if a Bill cannot be effective now, it should definitely be enforced from the next term onwards to save the jaidbynriew from the dishonour of being an illiterate society lacking competent leaders.

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