Tuesday, August 16, 2022

SC slams Nagaland govt for delaying women’s quota in local bodies

The Supreme Court on Thursday slammed the Nagaland government for delaying the implementation of 33% women’s reservation in local bodies for years which has, in turn, impacted the conduct of elections to urban local bodies in the State, The Hindu report stated.
The court said it was “really shameful” to see a State where women’s employment and education were high treating them shabbily. “This is a part of the country where women are educated, employed and contribute to economic development. This is really shameful,” a Bench of Justices S.K. Kaul and M.M. Sundresh addressed the Nagaland side on Thursday.
Reservation for women had in the past invited opposition from sections of the Naga society, who had contended that it was against their customary laws protected under Article 371(A) of the Constitution. The State had seen violence over the contentious issue.
The Bench was hearing a petition filed by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) in 2016, challenging a resolution by the Nagaland Assembly rejecting 33% reservation for women in urban local bodies.
In the previous hearing on April 12, the State had however informed the court about its new resolve to hold elections to the urban local bodies as per the 74th Amendment Act of the Constitution.
Consequently, the court had noted in its April 12 order that “there is now no impediment to holding of the elections providing for reservation for women”. The court had even recorded the State Election Commission’s decision to go ahead and use the Assembly electoral rolls as the basis for the municipal elections.
But, on Thursday, the court found that the schedule for the election had still not been notified. The Bench pulled up the Nagaland government for the delay. The court directed the State Election Commission to inform it within two weeks about the complete schedule of the polls. It posted the case for July 29.
The Bench said the delay in the elections was a result of the State’s failure to uphold women’s rights at every stage for all these years.
Nagaland’s claim: Nagaland’s Advocate-General, senior advocate K.N. Balgopal countered that the State cannot be blamed for the delay. He said the government had already given its administrative approval to the State Election Commission to implement the reservation.
But the court was not appeased, saying the approval came only a few days ago.
“It is only when the matter is listed before the court and on the anvil of hearing, that something is done. The notification will now be issued by the State Election Commission belatedly on account of the failure of the State,” the Bench observed. It refused to dispose of the matter, saying “we have no trust in the way the State government is doing things”.


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