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Q. Women reservation issue in Nagaland: Comment on issue of women reservation in municipality in the state of Nagaland.
Feb 07, 2017 Related to : GS Paper-2

Ans :

Introduction-

The Nagaland Government wanted to conduct municipal polls on 1st of February, but opposition from various quarters regarding the issue of women reservation and interference over customary law lead to cancellation of municipal poles scheduled on February 1st. 

Main issue-

  • Last year, the apex court has upheld the Nagaland the Nagaland government’s decision to provide 33% reservation for women in urban local body elections. 
  • But various Naga groups are opposing reservations to women, by saying that it would infringe on Naga customary laws and tradition as protected under Article 371(A) of the Constitution of India.

Analysis-

  • Article 371(A) of the Constitution says, “No Act of Parliament shall apply to Nagaland in relation to religious or social practices of the Nagas, Naga customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to the Naga customary law, ownership and transfer of land and its resources.”
  • Relying on this provision constitution, Naga groups are contending that granting 33% reservation for women would infringe on Naga customary laws and tradition as protected under Article 371(A) of the Constitution of India.
  • But the argument of Naga group contradicts Article 243(T) that guarantees mandatory reservations for women. Though Nagaland has some special provisions, but it should not contradict with basic ethos of constitution.
  • In India, most of the customary laws are codified in colonial India from oral representations. Naga customary law has created a political society dominated entirely by men. Since its first elections in 1964, there has never been a single woman representative in its assembly. 
  • In this background women in Nagaland are not enjoying constitutional rights.   Half the population cannot be kept out of democratic representation. Hence there is a need to either amend customary law to end women’s subordination or in case of contradictions, the constitutional guarantee of basic rights must be made to prevail over customary law.

Conclusion-

Most of the states in India have given substantial reservations to women in their local body elections as mandated by constitution. In a modern society women is participating in all important tasks like that of men. Though we need to respect customary laws of all faiths, but it should not override constitutional rights. Hence opposition in Nagaland must facilitate 33% reservation to women.


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