KHADC conundrum


The repeated call for Administrator’s Rule in the Khasi Hills District Council reeks of gross unconstitutionality. The problem with the district councils is that they are inherently unstable institutions dictated by the lucre of office. Those elected to the Councils have belied the aspirations of the founding father of the Sixth Schedule, JJM Nichols Roy. The Sixth Schedule was wrested with much sacrifice by Nichols Roy who cared for the tribal people of undivided Assam. That threat of domination by the non-tribal rulers of Assam is now in the past at least for Meghalaya. The state is now ruled by tribals and the district council has become an adjunct institution mainly engaged in handing out trading licenses to non-tribal traders. The relationship between the Councils and the traditional heads is frayed. The syiems are arbitrarily set aside if they don’t comply with the Council’s demands which most often than not are about money accruing from taxes and tolls from village markets and toll gates. The Councils relationships with other traditional heads such as the Dorbar Raid and Dorbar Shnong are also tenuous.

The practical thing to do was to dismantle the District Councils after Meghalaya was created. But for political reasons and not for reasons of public service they have been allowed to continue. Every institution created vide the Constitution is meant to deliver public goods. When the Councils started they were running primary schools and rural health services. They failed to run these two basic services. Both are now run by the State Government. At this point the Councils have become rent-seeking institutions and the constant    bickering and loss of confidence engineered against one Executive Council(EC) by a group of Councillors aligned with those in the Opposition is purely because of the spoils of office and not because the EC has not performed. If a particular EC has not performed then there should be a thorough discussion in the House and point by point allegations need to be made against its wrongdoings. But the last EC did not go through this process because the Chief Executive Member (CEM) resigned at the first hint of trouble.

Now that the tug of war is going on between the two opposing parties in the Khasi Hills District Council, the State Government wants to impose Administrator’s Rule which is akin to President’s Rule. If there is antagonism towards President’s Rule which nullifies the role of elected representatives and which people find that undemocratic then why allow the State Government to extend its rule over the Council?