Kohima High Court Orders District Municipal Elections Within One Month With 33% Reservation For Women
Since 1992, the Indian Constitution has required Municipal Councils to reserve 33% of seats for women. For 10 years, the State Government of Nagaland has violated this obligation to increase female representation. In 2006, the State Government finally added reservations for women into its Nagaland Municipal Act. However, even after including women's reservations in their own law, the State allowed male council leaders to retain their seats and waited three years before allotting wards for women. In December 2009 the State Cabinet thwarted the democratic system and postponed the elections to avoid allowing the voters to elect women to their constitutionally reserved seats. In face of the State's commitment to inequality, HRLN filed a Public Interest Litigation in collaboration with the Nagaland Mothers Association (Writ Petition (Civil) 147 (K) of 2011). In October 2011, Hon'ble Justice A. K. Goswami issued a landmark judgment, ordering the State to hold elections in accordance with the reservations requirement on or before January 2012. Despite this Court Order, the State Government of Nagaland did not hold elections in January. On 27 April 2012, after HRLN and representatives from the Nagaland Mothers Association filed a Contempt of Court Petition, the Gauhati High Court soundly rejected the Government's request to postpone elections further. The Court directed the State Government "to hold the election to the Municipal Councils and Town Councils within a month from the date" of the judgment. The State Government has appealed the Order. HRLN lawyers will travel to Nagaland this month to argue the matter and ensure that the State respects women's political participation and rights.