Amendment of constitution unlikely before general elections
SHILLONG: With the term of the 15th Lok Sabha coming to an end on May 31, 2014, the State Government’s move to extend the tenure of the GHADC by six months is in all probability set to turn into a futile exercise since the Parliament does not have enough time at its disposal to make necessary amendment to the Constitution to increase the strength of the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council from 29 to 40 as demanded by ANVC.
The State Government had extended the tenure of the GHADC by six more months on January 8, but no extension was given to the KHADC and the JHADC. Elections to the two autonomous district councils are slated for February 24.
Sources have pointed out that even if the Union Cabinet approves the proposed peace pact with the ANVC, only the Parliament has the authority to amend the Constitution to increase the strength of the GHADC from 29 to 40.
Necessary formalities that are mandatory for any Constitutional amendment may not be completed within the six months allotted to the GHADC, and if such a situation arises, the State Government will have no option other than announcing elections in the GHADC for the existing 29 seats. Under such circumstances, the ANVC leaders who had proposed raising the strength of the GHADC will have to contest in the 29 seats pending amendment to the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
As per the present Constitutional provision, each autonomous district council can have only 29 seats. One seat is reserved for a nominated member.
Another problem is that once the Constitution is amended by the Parliament to increase the number of seats in the GHADC to 40, the same has to be implemented in both the KHADC and the JHADC, thereby necessitating another round of election for the remaining seats.
With a short Parliament session currently underway ahead of the general elections slated for April-May, the issue relating to the amendment of the Sixth Schedule may not come up for discussion in the Lok Sabha.
Meghalaya Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prestone Tynsong told reporters on Thursday that notwithstanding the delay in the amendment to the Constitution to increase the seats, the Government can initiate other measures to empower the GHADC once the final peace pact is approved by the Centre.
Both the KHADC and JHADC will also benefit from whatever decision the Government takes with regards to the GHADC, Tynsong added.
Problems in empowering the ADCs
- Constitutional amendment to take more time
- Only peace pact will be approved first by the Cabinet
- Pending increase of seats in the GHADC, ANVC leaders can contest in only 29 seats
- After strengthening of the GHADC, other Councils to make similar demands
- Fresh elections likely for extra seats in KHADC, JHADC