UPDS opposes move to scrap customary laws
: (Sentinel/12 June 2009)
By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, July 11: The sudden proposal of the Asom Government to do away with the prevailing customary and traditional practices of the hill people of Karbi Anglong and NC Hills has come as a shock to the people of the two hill districts and the UPDS that has in peace negotiation with the Centre since 2003 to resolve the autonomy issue.
The proposed legalisation “Assam Administration of Judiciary in North Cachar Hills District Bill, 2009 and Assam Administration of Judiciary in Karbi Anglong District Bill, 2009” to replace the customary and traditional laws in the two hill districts to be placed during the Budget session, purportedly ‘in order to bring Karbi Anglong and NC Hills districts under the purview of judiciary’ is a dangerous move which is not only a ploy to further undermine the spirit of the basic tenets of the Sixth Schedule, but also a conspiracy to further delay and scuttle the peace process, the UPDS said in a statement e-mailed to The Sentinel today.
The UPDS is of the firm opinion that while the bifurcation of judiciary and executive in the hills is overdue, the setting up of an independent judiciary as proposed is a welcome development, and the existing customary practices are in no way the obstacles. But the recent press statement of Parliamentary Affairs Minister Baharat Narah, who himself belongs to a tribal community, has made it appear as if the customary laws are counter to the setting up of an independent judiciary in the two hill districts.
The UPDS also feels that the proposal to do away with the customary laws of the hill people is an unwanted and unwelcome interference into the customary affairs of the tribal communities. The proposed legislation also undermines the wisdom of the sub-committee under the chairmanship of late Asom Chief Minister Gopinath Bordoloi, appointed by the Constituent Assembly, which reported that ‘uniform, general administration which prevailed in the plains should not be introduced in these areas due to the special circumstance.’ It was the sub-committee’s opinion that ‘the special circumstances arose from the distinct way of life of the tribal people, their social customs, their attachment to and dependence on land and forests, their peculiar mode of cultivation and the manner in which disputes were resolved. The last one related to criminal and civil justice.’
The UPDS, through the statement, has appealed to Asom Government to desist from such suicidal attempts so that the ongoing peace process can further be expedited in the interest of peace in the State.