Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio. (File image)

Dimapur: The Nagaland government said the state authorities, as per the directive of the Supreme Court, are duty-bound to conduct the urban local body (ULB) elections as notified.

The Nagaland government requested the registered voters under the ULBs to wholeheartedly participate in the forthcoming ULB elections scheduled for May 16 and make it a resounding success.

Drawing attention to media reports regarding opposition to the forthcoming ULB polls by some quarters, principal secretary to the Nagaland government I Himato Zhimomi on Saturday issued a clarification on the demands of some civil society organisations and urban bodies that certain provisions of the Nagaland Municipal Act 2001 be amended before holding the polls.

The government clarified that the Supreme Court in the CA case no. 3607/2016 PUCL vs the state of Nagaland has, after a series of hearings, directed that the ULB elections must be held in Nagaland without any further delay in accordance with the 74th Amendment of the Constitution that stipulates 33% reservation of seats for women in ULBs.

In its ruling on February 13, the apex directed the state government to issue notification for elections to the ULBs by March 9.

It said in compliance with the Supreme Court order, the State Election Commission issued the notification for the ULB elections schedule on March 9 with the polls scheduled for May 16 and the Model Code of Conduct was accordingly enforced.

On the issue of “tax on land and buildings”, as raised by the organisations, the government said the provisions relating to it have already been removed from the Nagaland Municipal Act 2001 (3rd amendment in 2016). It said the amendment of Section 120 (1) (a) states that “all references and operative provisions relating to tax on land and buildings wherever these occur in the Nagaland Municipal Act, 2001 shall be deemed to have been omitted”.

Regarding the request by some quarters for replacement of the word “deleted” in lieu of “omitted”, the government said it has been made.

It was also clarified that as per the legal opinion, the words mission, omitted and deleted have no difference but should be read as of the same meaning and character in the context of the amendment issue in question.

After the announcement of the ULB elections, three urban bodies of the state said the 3rd amendment of the Nagaland Municipal Act, 2001 in 2016 with regard to “tax on land and buildings” as mentioned in Section 120(4) & (5), Section 121 (1) (a), Section 143, 144, 145 and 182 (d) appears to have been quoted with the word ‘omission’ or ‘omitted.’

They demanded that the word ‘omission’ and ‘omitted’ be replaced with the word ‘deleted’.

On suggestions for nominating women in ULBs with voting rights instead of 33% reservation of wards for women, the government said the Supreme Court in its judgment dated 22/02/2022 categorically struck down this submission as “something naturally not acceptable”.

The government said reservation of chairpersons for women in the ULBs was notified as per Section 23B of the Nagaland Municipal Act, 2001 (as amended). To bring about fair play, the rotation is being based on the alphabetical order of the ULBs, it added.

The government also made mention of the Supreme Court judgment dated 14/3/2023 that says “the poll schedule will not be disturbed now and the election process be completed in terms of the schedule.

The State Election Commission and the government to make all necessary arrangements to ensure free and fair elections in pursuance to the notification and any violation by any authority or citizen in breach thereof would be an act in breach of the order of this court”.

“Accordingly, the next hearing in the apex court is scheduled for May 18 only to ensure that the ULB election process is over,” the government added.

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