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HC orders Nagaland Govt to implement women reservation

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Kohima: In a landmark judgment, the Kohima Bench of the Gauhati High Court has directed the Government of Nagaland to hold elections to the municipal and town councils in the state with implementation of the 33 per cent reservation for women by January 20, 2012.

According to sources here today the verdict was passed yesterday against a writ petition filed by the Joint Action Committee on Women Reservation (JACWR) of several Naga women organisations, seeking the implementation of the women quota in the civic bodies and the early conduct of the long overdue civic elections.

The court observed that the circumstances which weighed upon the Nagaland Cabinet to postpone the elections could not be said to be exceptional or special, emergent and unforeseen, which alone could distract the authorities concerned from holding elections.

The issue of reservation of seats for women in municipal and town councils and the ongoing peace process in the state had, if at all, a tenuous link, it remarked, adding there was no material proof before the Cabinet that if elections were held, there would be break down of law and order mechinary in the state. Shortcomings of the Act, if any, and awaiting for suggested remedial measures is too fragile a ground to postpone elections in the face of the constitutional requirements and the law laid down by the apex court.

The HC also set aside and quashed the Cabinet decision taken on 16th Dec, 2009, while stating that the circumstances and considerations reflected therein did not meet the rigorous standard of invincible disability and exceptional circumstances which alone could have justified postponement of election.

It, therefore, said the impugned decision of the Cabinet dated 16.12.2009 and the Notification dated 11.1.2010 could not be sustained in law.

Also observing that the state government had not responded to the communications sent by the State Election Commission for the conduct of civic body elections, the government was directed to render full assistance and cooperation to the State Election Commission and respect the latter’s assessment of the needs and requirements in order to ensure free and fair elections. (UNI)

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