Guwahati: In a historic development, an emergent session of the Nagaland Assembly on Thursday passed the Nagaland Municipal Bill 2023 to implement 33 per cent reservation for women in Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), a subject which had pushed the state into a turmoil in the past.
The new bill replaced the Nagaland Municipal Act 2001, which was strongly opposed by organisations representing various Naga tribes in the past. Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio tabled the Bill in the third emergent session of the Assembly on Thursday, which was convened mainly for this purpose and the Bill was unanimously passed.
The new bill, however, excluded the provisions related to taxes, land and buildings and one-third reservation for women for the post of Chairperson in ULBs. These were demanded by the tribal organisations in lieu of their endorsement for 33 per cent reservation for women in the ULBs.
Elections for ULB in Nagaland were conducted last in 2004 but without reservations for women. The Nagaland Municipal Act 2001 was amended in 2006 to provide for 33 per cent reservation for women. However, the tribal organisations or Tribal Hohos as they are locally called opposed the move to implement 33 per cent reservation for women as per 74th Amendment to the Constitution and an order of the Supreme Court in July this year for Nagaland. They argued that the same infringes Article 371-A, a special provision for Nagaland that bars implementation of an act of the Parliament without a resolution for the same by the State Assembly. They also sought review of the provisions for collection of property taxes saying the same is against Naga customary laws.
After coming to power for the second straight term in March, the NDPP-BJP government in March announced elections for three municipal councils and 36 town councils on May 16 with 33 percent reservation for women. However, the tribal bodies decided to boycott the polls.
Taking part in the discussion on the new bill, deputy CM T R Zeliang on Thursday hoped that the reservation would empower women to become members of the ULBs as low participation of women in elections has remained a concern in Nagaland. Zeliang, who was a former CM, had to resign once due to violent protests by tribal organisations against the move to implement the reservation for women in ULBs. Subsequently, a select committee was constituted with Zeliang as its chairman. The committee reviewed the 2001 Act after discussion with various stakeholders.
Fearing repetition of serious law and order problems, as was witnessed in 2016, the state Assembly on March 28 this year decided to repeal the Nagaland Municipal Act 2001 as demanded by tribal bodies.
Rio on Thursday hoped that that the passage of the new Nagaland Municipal Bill, 2023, would lead to better administration, development, organisation, cleanliness, and beauty in cities and towns.
Now it needs to be seen whether women’s bodies accept the new bill as it exempted similar reservation for the post of chairperson in ULBs.
(Published 09 November 2023, 13:47 IST)