Law Enacted For 33% Women's Reservation In Local Bodies; Elections To Be Completed By April 2024 : Nagaland Govt Tells Supreme Court

Gyanvi Khanna

12 Dec 2023 5:32 AM GMT

  • Law Enacted For 33% Womens Reservation In Local Bodies; Elections To Be Completed By April 2024 : Nagaland Govt Tells Supreme Court

    On December 11, the Supreme Court considered an affidavit filed on behalf of the chief secretary of Nagaland. The same affirmed that the Nagaland Municipal Act, 2023, was passed on 9.11.2023 by the Nagaland assembly. The Act provides for 33 percent reservations for women in the Urban Local Bodies. This is in accordance with Article 243T (Reservation of Seats) of the Indian Constitution. A...

    On December 11, the Supreme Court considered an affidavit filed on behalf of the chief secretary of Nagaland. The same affirmed that the Nagaland Municipal Act, 2023, was passed on 9.11.2023 by the Nagaland assembly. The Act provides for 33 percent reservations for women in the Urban Local Bodies. This is in accordance with Article 243T (Reservation of Seats) of the Indian Constitution.

    A Bench comprising Justices S.K. Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia was hearing a petition filed by the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and women rights activist Rosemary Dvuchu challenging a resolution passed by the Nagaland Assembly, exempting operation of Part IXA of the Constitution of India, which mandates 33% reservation for women, in Municipalities and Town Councils of the State.

    Previously, in November, the State Counsel informed the Court that the Assembly had passed the Reservation Bill. Additionally, it was submitted that the Rules will be framed within a month, and the election process will be over by 30.4.2024. Against this backdrop, the Court had passed a direction for filing an affidavit and adjourned the matter to today.

    When the matter came up for hearing, the State counsel informed the Bench that in accordance with the statement made last time, an affidavit has been filed. Accordingly, the Bench ordered:

    “An affidavit has been filed on behalf of the chief secretary of the Nagaland affirming that the Nagaland Municipal Act, 2023 was passed on 9.11.2023 by the Nagaland assembly and was gazette notified on the same day, after receiving assent of the governor. It is further stated that the rules will be framed within a month….by on or before 8th January 2024 and election process shall be completed by April 2024. List on 3rd May, 2024. The notice of contempt can be discharged on next date as election process shall be completed by then.”

    Notably, before parting, Justice Kaul made some pertinent oral observations. He said:

    I have always felt that the women section of the society plays a very important role there. But somehow in election processes, it is left to the men only…Sometimes the social changes take a little longer.”

    Brief Background of Previous Hearings

    In April 2022, the State of Nagaland informed the Apex Court that the State Government, after holding a consultative meeting attended by all stakeholders, had resolved to implement 33% reservation for women in local body elections.

    Thereafter, on 29th July 2022, the Apex Court directed the State Election Commission (SEC) to complete the election process by January 2023. However, the election process was notified. As per an affidavit filed by the State Election Commission in January 2023, the State Government had asked it to provide an election schedule. In response, two options for notifying the election programme have been provided by the State Election Commission. The Bench had directed the State Election Commission to notify local body elections at the earliest and place before the official notification by 14th March 2023. 

    On March 14, 2023, the Nagaland State Election Commission informed the Apex Court that the local body elections in the State have been notified and are to take place on 16th May 2023. Accordingly, the Court had directed that the election schedule notified by the Commission should not be disturbed at any cost.

    Following the Court's order, on March 29, the Nagaland assembly repealed the Nagaland Municipal Act, 2001, under which the election process was announced. Pursuant to this, the Nagaland election commission issued a subsequent order on March 30 cancelling the election schedule.

    In April, when the matter again came up for hearing, the Court was displeased with the cancellation of the election. The Court stayed the operation of the above-mentioned order. Apart from this, it also issued notice on the PUCL application demanding contempt action to be initiated for non-compliance with the Top Court's order. Notice was issued to both the State Government and the State Election Commission.

    Case Title: PEOPLES UNION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES (PUCL) vs. THE STATE OF NAGALAND., Diary No.- 26940 - 2012

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