Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Commissioner Nagaland writes to Home Commr. over LBCA-LH imbroglio

Against the backdrop of tussle for control and administration of four sector churches in Wokha town under Lotha Baptist Church Association(LBCA), Commissioner Nagaland Rovilatuo Mor in a letter to the Home Commissioner, has raised a pertinent question on whether a Civil Society Organisation(CSO) – Lotha Hoho- registered under Registration of Societies Act 1980 was empowered to exercise powers and functions under Article 371(A) to dissolve the existing Lotha Baptist Church Association(LBCA) and also appoint a protem/interim LBCA executive.
In the letter, the commissioner informed the home commissioner that deputy commissioner Wokha had received a request from LBCA executive for vacating Lotha Hoho diktat in dissolving LBCA and banning it from carrying out any activity on the strength of Art. 371(A) and 16-Point Agreement. Commissioner said Article 371(A) and 16 Point Agreement provisions contain and provide adequate legal ground under Nagaland Village and Area Council Act, 1978 whereby a Tribal Council derives recognition and authority of Article 371(A) and bound by it (section 26) to “assist the state government and its various agencies, in the matter of maintenance of law and order in the society.”
The Commissioner asked whether a civil society organisation (Lotha Hoho) was empowered to exercise ordinances under the provision of Article 371(A) of the constitution and 16 Point Agreement and whether the action of LH was in consonance with an organisation registered under the Registration of Societies Act 1980?
The tussle for control and administration for four sector churches in Wokha town- Tchuphyangza, Samyan and Tiyichan- went to the high court, Kohima bench. The court passed four interim orders directing DC Wokha to “hand over the keys of the churches to the respective functionaries, so that the parties may be able to worship in their respective church buildings and start functioning independently”.
Commissioner said DC Wokha issued a circular on September 18,2021 as per high court order, for maintaining strict law and order around the sector churches with impartiality. Through another order on November 11,2021 , the court proposed mediation by the NBCC to settle the dispute so as to bring about an amicable solution but DC Wokha added that there has been no further correspondence in this regard. According to DC Wokha’s letter, the Lotha Hoho intervened and dissolved the present LBCA executive and also scheduled the installation of a protem LBCA executive body on March 28,2022 at Vankhosang.
In view of the proposed installation of a protem LBCA executive, DC Wokha issued appeal letters to all parties about apprehension of confrontation and clashes between rival groups, that might vitiate law and order in and around Vankhosang. The protem LBCA executive was however installed at later date at Kohima Lotha Baptist Church.
Commissioner said LBCA is a registered body under the Registration of Societies Act,1980 and having its own constitution and memorandum of association duly approved by the state government.
In view of the above, the commissioner opined that the ordinance issued by Lotha Hoho on March 18,2022 “should be considered null and void since it is ultra-vires and also in the pretext that legal adjudication is pending before the Hon’ble High Court.”
Further, the commissioner noted that action of LH in dissolving existing LBCA administration and replacing it with a separate protem/interim LBCA administration on its own volition at this juncture “tantamount to interference in the court proceedings” and can be considered as obstruction in the administration of justice and put the established law in bad light.
Commissioner suggested requesting NBCC to resolve the impasse as per court direction while also seeking views and comments of the justice and law department to enable the government take a well informed decision.