Guwahati HC quashes cabinet decision postponing municipal and local council elections in Nagaland; Naga Women to avail one-third reservation
Kohima Bench of Gauhati High Court, in a historic Judgment, of far-reaching impact on the polity and governance of Nagaland, has quashed the decision of Nagaland Cabinet of postponing the elections in Municipal & Town councils indefinitely, Hon'ble Court observed that, "Issue of reservation of seats for Women in Municipal Councils and Town Councils and the ongoing peace process in the State have, if at all, a tenuous link. There was no material before the Cabinet that if elections are held there will be break down of law and order in the State". Government of Nagaland by way of a cabinet decision on 16.12.2009 had postponed indefinitely the elections of Municipal/Town Councils due in January 2010 and had issued a notification dated 11.01.2011 dissolving existing Municipal Councils and Town Councils from their respective dates of expiry and appointed Executive Officers as Administrators in respect of dissolved Municipal/Town Councils. Such cabinet decision not only hampered growth of democratic processes in local governance but also deprived women of Nagaland from availing one-third reservation in Municipal/local councils throughout Nagaland. Government of Nagaland justified its stand on the pretext of such elections having potential to create tensions and undesirable situation in the State and also on the pretext of several representations having been made to Government opposing one third reservations for women. Governmnet did so inspite of the fact that Article 243 T (3) of the Constitution of India and also Section 23 A of The Nagaland Municipal (First Amendment) Act 2006 clearly prescribes for reserving one third seats for women. Naga Mothers' Association through its two members challenged this cabinet decision with the help of Human Rights Law Network in Kohima bench of Gauhati High Court. Accordingly Writ Petition (Civil) 147 (K) of 2011 was filed. Hon'ble Justice A. K. Goswami heard the petition and passed a landmark judgment on 21.10.2011. Government also made a failed attempt to challenge the locus standi of Petitioners (representatives of Naga Mothers' Association) on the ground that petitioners have suffered no legal injury and thus have no locus to bring this petition. During the proceeding, it came out that in-fact Election Commission had repeatedly reminded Government of the obligation to hold the elections. This Judgment and order of Hon'ble Gauhati High Court is being celebrated as a mazor success towards strengthening of democracy in State of Nagaland and empowerment of women in polity and governance in State of Nagaland.