DIMAPUR, Jan 15 - Following an appeal by Nagaland Chief Minister TR Zeliang, the Joint Action Committee on Women Reservation (JACWR) has, in principle, agreed to withdraw the Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed by it in the Supreme Court on the condition that the ongoing process of elections to urban local bodies in the State would be completed as notified by the State Government.
Zeliang had made the appeal to JACWR at a meeting in his Dimapur residence on January 13.
JACWR convenor Abeiu Meru and co-convenor Dr Rosemary Dzuvichu, in a release, explained that the decision was to allay the fears of tribal organisations that the case filed by them in Supreme Court �would infringe on Article 371A of Constitution of India.�
It also said the decision of Nagaland Government to hold elections with reservation for women has made the case filed in the Supreme Court �infructuous.�
Expressing pain at what was described as ongoing tussle between the tribal organisations and State authorities on the issue of elections to urban local bodies, the committee said, �misunderstanding and threats of expulsion� do not portend well for Naga society.
It said, State Government and State Election Commission were only carrying out their bounden duty to hold elections to urban local bodies as necessitated by Article 243T with reservation for women (enacted in 2006 by State Assembly) while various tribal organisations were apprehensive that holding such elections with women reservation �would infringe upon Article 371A of the Constitution.�
The JACWR opined that Article 243T did not infringe upon Article 371A in any way nor would it go against the customary and social practices of Nagas since town and municipalities were not traditional concepts nor institutions of Nagas. It further stated that various observations by courts, including Supreme Court, have clarified that the civic polls have nothing to do with Article 371A.
It expressed gratitude to the government for calling the civic polls with women reservation while stating that it was proof that Naga women were ready to shoulder responsibilities as many women have filed their nominations despite stiff opposition from various corners.
The JACWR appealed to all tribal organisations to desist from using threats and intimidations to banish, expel, excommunicate anyone and instead to allow due process of elections to be completed without any untoward incident or ill feeling.
Meanwhile, altogether 53 candidates have withdrawn their nominations for elections to the municipal and town councils so far. The last date for withdrawal of candidature is on January 17. A total of 535 nominations were found valid on the last day of scrutiny on January 11. The polls are scheduled to be held on February 1.