CM Rio proposes passing resolution to ‘exempt’ Nagaland from BJP govt backed UCC

Kohima: We are alliance to the central government led by BJP, and we will confront if necessary, says CM

BY | Monday, 11 September, 2023
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Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on Monday proposed the 14th House of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly to unanimously adopt and pass a resolution for “exemption” from the proposed enactment of Uniform Civil Code in its application to the State of Nagaland.

The Chief Minister said this while delivering his concluding remarks on the discussion pertaining to Uniform Civil Code (UCC), on the first day of the second session of the 14th Nagaland Legislative Assembly.

Rio said, a small state like Nagaland, our Assembly cannot a pass a resolution to confront with the central government, and we cannot protect any other states by our resolution. He therefore, said, the House should not use “Object” or “Against” or “Oppose” but to pass resolution for “Exemption” as the state is protected with the special provision of Article 371 (A).

“Let us first protect ourselves, we are alliance to the central government led by BJP, and we will confront if necessary but there is no time, we should not oppose the UCC, nor reject or object or pass resolution against UCC.”

CM Rio said, we are confident that Government of India will neither betray the Nagas nor themselves but uphold the Article 371(A).

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Mentioning that the apparent objective of the UCC is to have a single law on personal matters, such as marriage and divorce, custody and guardianship, adoption and maintenance, succession and inheritance across the country, for all communities and religious groups, Rio viewed that this shall pose a threat to the Naga customary laws, social practices and the religious practices, which will be in danger of encroachment in the event of imposition of Uniform Civil Code;

Rio reminded the house that sensing the gravity and urgency of the matter especially with respect to the people of the State, the Nagaland government, through a Cabinet decision, submitted its views to the 22nd Law Commission on 4 July 2023.

“We have conveyed our unambiguous opinion on the implementation of UCC in Nagaland and categorically submitted that Nagaland be completely exempted from the purview of UCC on the following grounds of the history of Nagaland which was provided certain protection since the pre-independent British era such as through the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations of 1873; the 9-point Agreement of 1947 on assurance of non-interference policy of Govt of India in the Social & Religious Practices and Customary Laws of the people; the 16 point Agreement which eventually led to the creation of the State of Nagaland while providing constitutional safeguards for the people of the State in terms of Religious or social Practices, Naga customary laws and practices, Administration of civil and criminal justice involving customary laws and Ownership and transfer of land and its resources,” said the Chief Minister.

He said it was made very clear in the petition by the State Cabinet that “such an approach is a direct threat to the practice of our Customary Laws, Social Practices and the Religious Practices”.

Rio underlined that it was amply clear UCC will have far-reaching implications across all sections and communities of the State and therefore, the State Government felt it extremely necessary to have more broad-based deliberations and involve all stakeholders to gather their views and opinion. Accordingly, a Consultative Meeting with various stakeholders was organised on 1 September 2023, with the representatives of the Tribal Hohos and Organizations where they have all expressed their strong resentment and objection to the idea of having a Uniform Civil Code, he added.

To bring in more clarity, Rio read out the safeguards provided to the State of Nagaland and her people under Article 371(A) of the Constitution of India which says: “Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, no Act of Parliament in respect of the religious or social practices of the Nagas, Naga customary law and procedures and  administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary laws, and ownership and transfer of land and its resources shall apply to the State of Nagaland unless the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland by a resolution so decides”.

Speaking on the legal opinion of the state on UCC, and our understanding of the entire matter, Rio said that Nagaland will continue to be outside its purview. However, he said keeping in view the consultations with various stakeholders and after examining the apparent spirit and intent of the Uniform Civil Code, and taking into account the constitutional guarantees given to the State and its people under Article 371 A; there is a clear urgency for the 14th NLA, which represents the voice of the people of the State, to convey their explicit position on the subject.

NLA Speaker Sharingain Longkumer later informed that the Resolution on UCC would be adopted tomorrow.

Read more: BJP’s UCC is foundation for totalitarian rule, 14th NLA must reject Bill: NPF leader Nienu

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