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Anti-Lineage Act order to be revoked

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SHILLONG, May 3: The Social Welfare Department has decided to revoke the administrative order issued on July 21, 2020, permitting the issuance of Scheduled Tribe certificates to applicants adopting either the father’s or mother’s surname and also to non-Khasi female applicants who wish to adopt their husband’s surname after marriage.
The decision is because of the conflict of the order with the Khasi Hills Autonomous District (Khasi Social Custom of Lineage) Act, 1997.
Social Welfare Minister Paul Lyngdoh on Friday said he pursued the matter after the Hynniewtrep Youth Council asked the government in November 2023 to withdraw the order issued by the department against matrilineal surnames by “misinterpreting” the Lineage Act.
He said it was unanimously decided that the order issued at the level of the department’s under-secretary was not necessary as the Lineage Act of 1997 “does not prohibit the issuance of ST certificates to the applicant adopting surnames of either the father or mother and the practice of adopting husband’s surnames by non- Khasi wife was also allowed”.
“In the course of the discussion, it became apparent that since the KHADC had passed the Bill on lineage and had the Governor’s assent, it had the (desired) power. As such, no officer of the Meghalaya government had the right to issue any order contradicting the Act,” he said.
He added that the need to impugn and withdraw the order was thus felt.
Lyngdoh said guidelines for issuing  SC/ST certificates through an office memorandum of March 19, 2014, issued by the Social Welfare Department were also discussed. The discussion focused on the need to amend the office memorandum by incorporating a “Tribe certificate from the competent authority for areas under KHADC jurisdiction” in the guidelines.
He said the order indicated a basic lack of knowledge and non-application of mind on the part of the officer who issued it. “It was a misinterpretation of not only the laws but an abuse of power by the officer who issued this order,” he added.

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