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‘Khasi Lineage Act riddled with confusion, should be repealed’

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Lineage Act tries to take away the rights of those who follow the traditional faith and the matrilineal system, says VPP’s Batskhem Myrboh

SHILLONG, May 5: Academician and Voice of the People Party spokesperson, Batskhem Myrboh on Sunday said the Khasi Lineage Act is riddled with confusion and hence, should be repealed.
“This is my personal opinion as an academician and a Khasi and not the view of the party. I feel this is an Act which not only needs to be amended but repealed,” Myrboh said.
He said the Act tries to take away the rights of those who follow the traditional faith and the matrilineal system, and deprives those, who marry non-Khasis, of the Khasi status.
“It is a very tricky law. The basic question is when you talk about Scheduled Tribes, is the KHADC (Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council) empowered to make a law on the Scheduled Tribes? Do they have the power? I am not belittling the KHADC but we have to go by the law. I am not a lawyer but this is my plain and simple understanding of the law,” Myrboh said.
He added, “When you talk about who is a Khasi who stops you from talking beyond lineage? I dare the proponents of the Act to implement its clause (d) of sub section 1 of Section 10. Further, when you when you talk about social custom of the Khasis, it is such a complex matter and not reduced only to lineage. There is so much about culture and this is a very complex matter that needs further debate.”
Earlier, the Social Welfare Department decided to revoke the administrative order issued on July 21, 2020, permitting the issuance of ST 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.
Referring to this, Myrboh said this law may be challenged ultimately.
“You can issue a certificate from the KHADC but it has no link with the ST certificate given by the DCs. The DCs are not the officials of the KHADC but government of Meghalaya and they are bound to implement the directives issued by the Social Welfare Department,” he said.
“The question is who has the authority to issue a guideline on the issue of ST certificate? Is it the KHADC or the Social Welfare Department?” he said.
“…this Act talks about people who lose their Khasi status if they follow any personal law which is not in consonance with the Khasi personal law about marriage, divorce system, heritance,” Myrboh said.
The KHADC talks about reintroducing the bill which in fact tries to undo the customary practices of inheritance whereby they say that men can also inherit property, he said.
“On one hand, you say you have a law which says you will lose your Khasi status the moment you follow a personal law which is not in consonance with Khasi personal law and on the other hand, you are trying to make a law which is completely in contradiction with the Khasi personal law, traditions and customs of the Khasis. I find that all these create confusions,” he added.

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