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Apex court grants powers to headmen

State govt asked to frame balanced rules for traditional heads  No stay on order of High Court of Meghalaya

SHILLONG: In a win -win situation, the Supreme Court on Friday allowed the headmen in Meghalaya to function as per the customs, usages and traditions, without, however, staying the High Court of Meghalaya order to frame rules for them even as the apex court has asked the State government to come out with a balancing mechanism regarding the role and functions of headmen.
The apex court has issued notices to all the concerned parties including the State government after the Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed by the KHADC was taken up on Friday.
The SLP was filed by KHADC challenging the January 13 order of the Division Bench of the High Court of Meghalaya which had asked the State government to frame rules for the functioning of the traditional heads.
Moreover, the High Court had also asked the State government to bring headmen under RTI and anti corruption mechanism and also to follow the election process of headmen like Assembly and Lok Sabha polls.
The Division Bench of the High Court was in fact upholding the order of the Single Bench delivered in December, 2014 in a matter related to harassment of villagers in East Jaintia Hills for marrying non- tribals.
The Single Bench had to intervene by stripping of the powers of headmen after the villagers sought the intervention of the Court after they were ex-communicated and deprived of their rights to live and stay peacefully with their parental families.
They were also subjected to harassments by the Village Dorbar including denial of essential items under BPL.
Moreover, the Village Dorbar of Pamrakmai declined to issue residential certificates to the affected villagers and, as a result, they were not able to get their accommodation or a regular employment at the place where they were staying having, shifted after closure of the coal mines.
Supreme Court lawyer Ranjan Mukherjee who appeared before the Court as the legal representative of East Jaintia Hills district and the State Chief Secretary, said over phone from Delhi that the Division Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justice Shiva Kirti Singh and R.F. Nariman did not stay the order of the High Court, but observed that for the present, the headmen will continue to function as per tradition, culture and usages.
“The Court also asked the State government to ensure a via-media balancing solution to address the present situation,” Mukherjee said.
Mukherjee also conveyed to the Court that the State government will also file a Special Leave Petition which will be tagged with the present petition of the KHADC.
The KHADC was represented by counsels Vijay Hasnsaria and Amit Kumar.
The matter will be taken up again for hearing after six weeks.

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