Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit dares the State Government?
SHILLONG: The war between the State Government and former Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) Chief Executive Member (CEM) Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit, has gone a step ahead after the former CEM questioned the State Government as why it had not arrested them if it thought that the steps taken by the MDCs of ARPA is 'unconstitutional'.
The State Government had argued that the demand of the ARPA for re-inclusion of sub section 8 and 16 of Section 5 in the Village Administration Bill (VAB) is in conflict with the Fundamental Rights as clearly specified in Article 19 of the Constitution.
Basaiawmoit said that it needed to inform the people on the actual position of the modified KHAD (Village Administration) Bill, 2015 adding that the government was trying to mislead the people and trying to suppress their campaigns to informing the people while informing that Fundamental Rights is not an absolute right.
He also added that Article 301 of the Constitution have clearly specified that neither Parliament nor the Legislature of a State have power to make any law giving, or authorizing the giving of, any preference to one State over another, or making, or authorizing the making of, any discrimination between one State and another, by virtue of any entry relating to trade and commerce in any of the Lists in the Seventh Schedule. However, Article 304 states that the State may impose such reasonable restrictions on the freedom of trade, commerce or intercourse with or within that State as may be required in the public interest. Therefore, the State can always put reasonable restrictions on all matters, Basaiawmoit added further.
While reiterating that they were clearly not playing politics, he hinted that "the world knows who is playing politics".
The former CEM also stated firmly that if the incorporation of the two deleted sections of the VAB is unconstitutional then the Reservation Policy, the Scheduled Tribe status and United Khasi-Jaintia Trading By Non-Tribals Regulation, 1954 are also unconstitutional while asserting that there is a need to protect the identity of the indigenous community. "It is for this reason they have come up with Sixth Scheduled to preserve and protect our distinct culture, custom and our identity," Basaiawmoit said.
While adding the if states like Nagaland and Mizoram could get Article 371 A and G which prohibits that no Act of Parliament in respect to their religious or social practices, customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law ownership and transfer of land and its resources, shall apply to the State of Nagaland and Mizoram unless their respective Legislative Assemblies by a resolution so decides, he stressed that they also need Article 371 to protect their identity.
"Sadly, at present, the Dorbar Shnongs have not able to function as per the prevailing practices following the intervention of the court," Basaiawmoit added further urging the indigenous people to unite and voice their opinions and concerns.
Meanwhile, ARPA chairman Metbah Lyngdoh argued, "As elected representatives, we have conducted a thorough study and found that these deleted clauses are in no way conflicting with any existing laws or infringes the fundamental rights of anybody."
Referring to Article 19 of the Constitution, he said, "Clause 5 of this Article clearly allows us to protect and safeguard the identity of our indigenous community."
While adding that there is no political connection with the issue, Lyngdoh informed that ARPA has no intention to spread hatred through its demand, and that the demand is merely for protecting the identity of the indigenous community.