SHILLONG |Sept 11, 2019:
The Opposition Congress today called on the need to retrace on the Instrument of Accession and Annexed Agreement (IoA&AA) for the State to protect itself from the alleged “high-handedness” of the Union Government.
Moving a resolution on the subject — ‘That the House resolves to urge upon the Centre to enact a legislation for inclusion of the historical instrument of accession in Article 371 of the Constitution of India for protection of the citizens of the State” on the fourth day of the Autumn Session of the Assembly, senior Congress MLA, Ampareen Lyngdoh said that the final Instrument of Accession (IoA) was accepted by the Governor General of India on August 14, 1949.
“In this agreement signed on August 17 1948, the Federation of Khasi States agreed in principle that all existing administrative arrangements between the Union of India and the Province of Assam and the Khasi States would become cooperative provided that theses States would continue to be given right on certain subjects like judicial authority, administrative powers, right over land, water and revenue,” she said.
According to her, there is a merit to include Meghalaya under Article 371 of the Constitution of India. The senior Congress MLA said that the State of Mizoram has got the privilege to fall under Article 371 G following the commencement of Constitution 53 Amendment Act 1986 adding that Mizoram is also privileged under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution where the three ADCs continue to function.
“The State Meghalaya was left out of the purview. This has re-opened the agenda to include Meghalaya under Article 371 especially when the State is no longer protected by the constitutions provision laid down in the Sixth Schedule,” she said.
While supporting the motion, Congress MLA from Umroi, George B Lyngdoh said, “We are in the important juncture of time where parliamentary practices defy convention as laid down in the constitution. The wounds of the repeal of Article 370 pertaining to the State of J&K stand witness to how the rights of the State and its people can be trampled overnight without the consent of the State legislature,” Lyngdoh said.
He further observed that this resolution have paved way for healthy discussion on the constitutional provisions that can protect our State after the “high-handedness” of the Government and the impending laws.
The Congress MLA said that if we look at the constitutional aspects of Nagaland and Mizoram, they have been adequately protected through Article 371 A and 371 G as no Act of Parliament shall apply in respect of religious practices, customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving of customary laws, ownership and transfer land particularly its resources.
Lyngdoh said that it is time to retrace ourselves to the IoA. “Any legislation that comes from the Union Government, it has to hold to Para 5 of the Annexed Agreement where it should adopt or modify according to our needs. Till today we do not have protection of any constitutional provisions and are fully exposed to the unilateral measures of the Union Government,” the Congress MLA said.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition, Dr Mukul Sangma while supporting the motion hit out at the central government for being “ignorant” of the diversity of the country.
He alleged that the centre was trying to impose its will more on the states now than ever before.
“What we are seeing now is that the view of the state has become immaterial,” the leader of opposition said.
In his reply, District Council Affairs Minister, James Sangma said that Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit brought the issue of Article 371 but it was the then Congress government that defeated it in the House.
Sangma, while reminding the opposition Congress of the above, asked what is Dr Mukul Sangma’s stand on the issue. “He is a senior member of the House but speaks in a double forked manner,” James Sangma said.
He also said that the debate on the federal structure of the country has been going on forever and there is no need to cause unnecessary paranoia.
“Now Union Ministers are coming to the region and seeing things first hand; it will be a game changer,” Sangma said.
“Therefore it is wrong to say that the federal structure is in jeopardy. Now we see more interactions,” The district council affairs minister said.
The senior Congress MLA did not withdraw the resolution.
Pictures credit: Sam Lyngdoh