ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Land Tax, Reservation for Women and Customary Law in Nagaland

Can elected urban local bodies in Nagaland levy taxes on land and buildings when Naga lands and its resources are, under Article 371A of the Constitution, the domain of customary bodies and laws? Should women be allotted 33% reservation of electoral seats in these urban local bodies, as sanctioned by the Constitution, when customary institutionsand practices did not envision political leadership for women? These are divisive questions in Nagaland. A socio-historical background is offered.

Influenced by Verrier Elwin’s views on tribal lifeworlds, Jawaharlal Nehru wrote in his foreword to Elwin’s A Philosophy for NEFA (1959), that tribal communities in India’s North East “should develop along the lines of their own genius and [that] we should avoid imposing anything on them. We should try to encourage in every way their own traditional arts and culture.” It was in part a follow-up on this philosophy, but primarily as an envisaged (but failed) political compromise in relation to the Naga demand for independence that Nehru assented not only to the enactment of a Nagaland state in 1963, but also to the crafting of Article 371A of the Constitution, which reads:

Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, no Act of parliament in respect of religious or social practices of the Nagas, Naga customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law, ownership and transfer of land and its resources, shall apply to the State of Nagaland unless the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland by a resolution so decides.

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Updated On : 7th Mar, 2017
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