KHADC solicits SCoTCH opinion on women participation in dorbur election

SHILLONG: The participation of women in election to the Dorbar Shnong is a gradual process even as traditional institutions encounter challenges with doing away with the age-old tradition of men-only domain.

In this connection, the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) Chief HS Shylla said the opinion of the Subordinate Council of Traditional Chiefs and Headmen (SCoTCH) would be solicited.

“We have nothing much to say but we have witnessed there is a gradual change. We have seen women in urban, semi urban areas taking part in election of office bearers to the Dorbar Shnong,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

However, he pointed out there are many places in the state where only men were allowed to vote at the Dorbar Shnong and the District Council did not want to go ahead with the change suddenly.

“Those who feel women are welcome, we have nothing against them but there are many Himas who still follow the practice where only the males are allowed to vote,” Shylla said.

It may be mentioned that the order of the High Court of Meghalaya on Friday to enable all adult voters, irrespective of gender, to take part in the election for traditional heads has given scope for active participation of women in Dorbar.

The Division Bench comprising chief justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir and Justice SR Sen wanted all adult male and female to take part in the election.

However, the contention of the petitioner who was removed as Sordar Shnat Raid Tynring for not holding regular Dorbar was that as per the customary practice, only males who had attained 18 years of age or above could participate in the Dorbar for voting. Females were not entitled to vote.

The court said adult members of the clan irrespective of any gender are eligible to elect a headman and the same position is supported by Sub-section (1), (6) and (8) of Section 2 of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District (Appointment and Succession of Chiefs and Headmen) Rules, 2015.

“Sub-section (6) clearly envisages that inhabitants who have attained the age of 18 years have the right to attend the Dorbar, there is no question of male and female, all persons above the age of 18 years can participate. Now to claim that there is a custom providing the right to vote only to male is not in anywhere established nor any such custom can be in consonance with good conscience or public policy. How can adult female be deprived of the right to vote in the electoral process governing the election of a Sordar,” the court said.

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