Call for strengthening customary laws in Nagaland

Call for strengthening customary laws in Nagaland

Nagaland’s Commissioner M Patton speaking at the one day training for the Dobashis of Nagaland in Kohima on March 22. (Morung Photo)

Our Correspondent
Kohima | March 22


The Nagaland State Legal Services Authority (NSLSA) in collaboration with Office of the Commissioner, Government of Nagaland today organized one day training for the Dobashis of Nagaland on constitution & customary law, local laws and role of dobashis.


Addressing the inaugural session here today at Kohima DPDB conference hall, Nagaland’s Commissioner M. Patton stressed on the need to take care of the customary laws, for which documentation is required. Stating that every tribe has its own customary laws, he stressed on the need to organize a wide-ranging training at the tribal level as well to strengthen the customary laws.


Justice N Kotiswar Singh, Judge, Gauhati High Court & executive chairman NSLSA and Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva, Judge, Delhi High Court & Member Advisory Council, Indian Institute of Legal & Professional Development (IILPD), who are currently in Kohima in connection with two day long advocacy skills training for lawyers also addressed the inaugural session.


Justice Singh while speaking on the Constitution and Customary Law, Local Laws & Role of Dobashis stated that customary law plays an important role in Nagaland, therefore it should function in relevance with the present situation. Also stressing on the need to strengthen the customary laws with credibility and transparency, he said that Dobashis should request the government to improve the facility of the customary court.


He stated that the DBs should work towards dispensing justice and credibility. He also stated that Article 371 (A) despite being a special provision protecting the interest of Nagas, no person is above the Constitution, as such we should respect and adhere to the provisions.


Sachdeva his address advised the Dobashis to know the fact of the case and give judgment accordingly without any bias. He said that Dobashis should perform their duty with honesty and integrity in deciding any case without any favouritism.

‘Dobhasis are the guardian of customary laws’
CT Jamir, Sr. Advocate, Gauhati High Court Kohima Bench spoke on the Role of DBs and Rules for Administration of Justice and Police in Nagaland (as Amended upto date). He stated that Customer Court is the lowest court, which dispenses justice to the people and that with the provision under Article 371 (A) of the Indian Constitution; the Customary Court was here to stay.


“As such, the DB should no longer be ignorant and should brush up on the subject of law and procedure required for manning the Customary Court,” he said.


He stated that it is the Provision under Rule 23 A of the Rule for Administration of Justice and Police in Nagaland, 1937, from which the DBs derives it power.


However, the DBs are not given original jurisdiction to take up matters on its own and that their power is very limited. Hence, he advised the DBs to approach the concerned department so that an amendment is brought about to strengthen their powers, duties and functions.


Most people in Nagaland do not know customs, so the DB institution is relevant for the reason that they are the guardian of Customary Laws.


Kakheto Sema, Sr. Additional Advocate General, Nagaland apprised the participants on Nagaland Village and Area Council Act,1978 and duties and function of the village council members and Dobashis. He urged the DBs to maintain proper records of the cases as testimonies of the DBs can be a source of customary laws in case if codification of law is to take place.


NSLSA project coordinator Limasenla Longkumer talked on Legal Services Authority Act.