Conrad Sangma
Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma. File image - Northeast Now

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Monday said that various suggestions given by various organizations from Meghalaya were taken into consideration by the Centre.

Conrad conveyed this message to a delegation under the banner of Meghalaya Indigenous Tribal Constitutional Rights Movement that met him at the Secretariat.

The delegation sought to know from Chief Minister the status of suggestions they had given to the Central government on the proposed amendment to the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution as Meghalaya has three autonomous district councils created under the Sixth Schedule.

Northeast Students’ Organization (Neso) chairman, Samuel B. Jyrwa who was part of the delegation told reporters that the delegation briefed the Chief Minister about the meeting they had with MHA joint secretary (Northeast), Satyendra Garg on May 25 in Shillong where they had discussed the issue and submitted various suggestions on the proposed amendment to the Sixth Schedule.

Jyrwa said that the Chief Minister said that suggestions have been accepted by the ministry, and now they are preparing the amendment to be sent to the Union cabinet for approval.

The delegation made it clear that besides amendment related increase of seats, giving direct funding to district councils, and holding of elections, the words ‘village council’ and ‘municipal council’ as indicated in the proposed amendment, should not mean traditional institutions like ‘Dorbar Shnongs, Dorbar Raid, and Dorbar Hima’ in Meghalaya, and the words “municipal council’ does not mean ‘town dorbar.’

“The ministry has decided to leave to the respective district councils of Meghalaya to explain and define about the traditional institutions as per their understanding and requirement from one council to another,” Jyrwa said, adding that the issue would be followed up.

On the report that the move to amend the Sixth Schedule would be in line with Panchayati Raj system, the chief minister informed the delegation that in areas where there district councils exist, the funding will come to the autonomous district councils.

Another delegation member, John Kharshiing said that the Centre has to also amend Article 280 to allow the Central government to allocate funds for the district councils as it has been in the case of Panchayats and Municipal councils.

“Article 280 has to be amended by incorporating the words district councils so that the Centre can earmark special funds for district councils in the state under Article 280,” John said.

Advocate, Erwin Sutnga said that on issues related to adult suffrage, the powers rest with district councils to decide who the voters are, and who can stand in elections, and the district councils would frame the rules on this matter.

He also said that the state election commission will conduct the elections, but rules should be framed by the district councils.

Stating that the amendment will be a comprehensive one, Sutnga said, adding the proposed amendment will also have provisions that prevent defection of members and holding of dual posts by members of the district councils.

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