Thursday, December 7, 2023

Opp MDCs stage walkout opposing passage of Bill


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By Our Reporter

SHILLONG, Sep 25: The MDCs of the opposition parties in the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) staged a walkout during the last day of the Council’s two-day special session on Monday after the NPP-led Executive Committee (EC) decided to go ahead with the Khasi Hills Autonomous District (Administration of Elaka) (Second Amendment) Bill, 2023.
The MDCs of UDP and HSPDP had proposed that the amendment bill be referred to the Select Committee.
Leader of Opposition, Titosstarwell Chyne said it will be better to refer the amendment bill to the Select Committee, claiming that many of its clauses are in conflict with the Acts of the various Himas.
Deputy CEM in-charge of Elaka, Pynshngain N Syiem asked why the opposition MDCs did not study the bill in detail and come up with a suggestion.
He said he does not think it will require a lot of time to study the amendment bill. He further said the EC is of the view that there should not be any delay in passing the bill.
Subsequently, the opposition MDCs staged a walkout opposing the passing of the amendment bill.
Later, Chyne described the EC’s decision as “highly illegal and unparliamentary”. He claimed it was against the rules of procedure and conduct of business of the House.
He said while the EC rejected the suggestion of the MDCs from opposition parties to refer the amendment bill to the Select Committee, it, interestingly, referred the Khasi Hills Autonomous District (Nomination, Election and Appointment of the Syiem, Deputy Syiem, Lyngdoh, Myntri, Sordar and Administration of Nongkhlaw Syiemship) Bill, 2023 to the Select Committee.
“How can they refer this bill on administration of Nongklaw Syiemship when I had not moved the amendment motion? How can the House consider the suggestion of a member from the ruling side to refer this bill to the Select Committee when he tabled the amendment motion?” he asked.
According to him, the bill should not have been passed since no one had moved the amendment motion.
“This only shows that the EC tried to bulldoze by doing things which are against the rules of conduct of business,” the Leader of Opposition said.
Stating that the opposition MDCs are not against the amendment bill, he said their only contention was that the bill should not be passed hastily to ensure that there are no contradictions.
“We wanted to properly study the amendment bill but it was circulated to us on the day of the special session itself,” Chyne said.
He said they are also aware that there are no administration rules for either Seng Longkmie or Seng Samla so far.
“We also understand the importance of this bill. But we cannot overlook the discrepancies which are there in the bill,” he said.
He said the EC wanted the Deputy Secretary of the Council to remain as the Tribunal who functions like a magistrate but this is not justified.  “We would like to question how a Deputy Secretary, who has no legal background, can occupy such an important position. We wanted a judicial magistrate to head the Tribunal since it is the final appellate authority to take decision on any disputes. But the EC is not ready to listen to our suggestion,” Chyne said.
He said they will sit and decide on their future course of action.
“We may write to the Governor or to the District Council Affairs department to express our reservation over the manner in which the amendment bill has been passed. We may also convene a meeting with the traditional heads to discuss this matter,” Chyne said.
But the Deputy CEM said the various Dorbar Shnongs, Dorbar Dongs, Seng Samla and Seng Longkmie till date do not have any administration rules to define their roles and functions.
“We had attempted to bring the Village Administration Bill (VAB) which is very lengthy. We also understand that it will not be easy to reply to the queries raised by the Ministry of Home Affairs on the VAB. After studying KHAD (Administration of Elaka) Act, 1991, we can adopt the spirit of the VAB by bringing amendments under Paragraph 3F of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution,” Syiem said.
He also said that there was no justification in opposing the passing of the amendment bill since he had cleared all the queries raised by the Opposition members, point by point.
“I can only say that it is only a drama. There is no justification to say we are rushing since they were all convinced to the reply I made,” he said.
According to him, the bill was formulated in consultations with legal experts and officials of the Council and a copy of the draft bill was circulated to all the members since Friday.


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