Nagaland: NLA Committee chides Agri, Forest Dept for laxity in maintaining records

A session of the Thirteenth Nagaland Legislative Assembly in progress in February 2021. (DIPR File Photo: For Representational Purposes Only)
A session of the Thirteenth Nagaland Legislative Assembly in progress in February 2021. (DIPR File Photo: For Representational Purposes Only)

Morung Express News
Dimapur | March 6 

Two departments in Nagaland were chided by the Nagaland Legislative Assembly’s (NLA) Committee on Subordinate Legislation (2020-2021) for failure to maintain records of important official documents and procedural lapses, among others. 

The Committee headed by Dr Imtiwapang Aier made the observation after examining the ‘Nagaland Agricultural Produce Marketing Rules, 2006’ (62nd Report) and the ‘Nagaland State Biological Diversity Rules, 2012’ (63rd Report). The former is under the Department of Agriculture (DoA) while the latter is part of the Department of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change (DoEF&CC).

The reports were adopted on July 17, 2020 and presented to the NLA on February 19, 2021.   

Failure to furnishOfficial Notification 
While examining the APMC rules, the DoA was queried regarding the constitution of the Nagaland State Agricultural Marketing Board (NSAMB) and Agricultural Marketing Committee.

The Department in its reply stated that the Committee was formed on September 8, 2005 and came “into force at once” but the copy of the Official Notification was not available with the department.  

Viewing the laxity of the Department “seriously,” the Committee said: “It feels that the Department has been non-committal to the dealing and in keeping records of important papers and hence disorderliness.” 

Accordingly, urging for more carefulness in dealing with keeping records of important papers, the Committee cautioned the DoA to ensure that it “kept track of the procedural formalities and on completion of such formalities, records of important papers to be kept properly by giving due importance” in the future.         

It further recommended that official orders issued by the provision of State Rules/Act should be published in the State Gazette without delay and append the Rules and keep note of such procedure in the future.

It also observed that while all administrative procedural requirements have been fulfilled with regard to the NAPM Rules, 2006, copies of the “approval and clearance documents were not furnished to the Committee.” 

Meanwhile, according to the Committee, there is an instruction to all department that “Rules framed under delegated legislation should be published in a draft form in local papers” for comments and feedback.

The Department in its reply said that such procedure was not followed “as per record available” though the Nagaland Agricultural Produce Marketing Rules (Development & Regulation Act) was passed by the Assembly on July 20, 2005 and published on Gazette of Nagaland extraordinary on September 8, 2005.        

To this end, the Committee viewed that the Draft Rules should be notified in local papers besides publishing in the Official Gazette as they as the best medium to reach the general public.  

“The Committee further desires that in future this may be noted while framing amendment to the Rules,” it added. 

Regarding the service conditions of the employees of the NSAMB, though yet to be implemented, the Committee noted that with the framing of the NAPLM - Nagaland Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2017, the 2006 Rules had become “redundant” and refrained from further examination.

However, “scrutiny and analysis” would be initiated as and when the Committee decides to examine the 2017 Act/Rules,” it added. 

The Committee also expressed its desire for an early action on finalization of Rules in lines of NAPLM Act 2017 as well as framing of a new NSAMB and to notify them for public information. 

It also directed the Department to lay the amended Rules 2017 on the floor of the house and also furnish the Gazette notification of the amended Rules for consideration within 45 days from the presentation of the report to the house. 

8-year lapse
In the context of the DoEF&CC, the Committee observed that while the Nagaland State Biological Diversity Rules, 2012 was notified in September 22, 2012, the Department could not get the Rules published in official gazette even after a “lapse of 8 years.”

At the same time, it said that the Department is allowing the “2012 Rules to continue to be in force till now,” which is in “contravention of the provisions of Rule 1 (2) of the 2012 Rules itself.”  

Rule 1 (2) clearly “provides for the enforcement of the Rules from the date of publication in the “Official Gazette,” the Committee pointed out, calling the Department’s “negligent attitude” on important matters and enforcing rules without procedural requirement for so many years “regrettable.”

Consequently, the Committee recommended for speeding up the process of publication of Rules “without further delay” in the official gazette and furnish the copy for its consideration within 45 days from the presentation of the report in the NLA. 

It also noted that the present “Rule 1 (2)” appears to confer “unintended status on the publisher of the Nagaland Gazette” as the maker of statutory rules while such status is conferred only on the Department concerned and against the scheme of Subordinate Legislation.  

 “The Committee urge the Department to address this anomaly in a bid to avoid complications and further desires that in the future this may be seriously noted while framing amendment to Rules,” it recommended. 

It further chided the DoEF&CC’s failure to furnish the copy of official notification on creation/bifurcation of the Nagaland State Biodiversity Board as sought by the Committee.

Taking a “strong exception” to the lapses, the Committee said that the Department should take enough “care in dealing with and in keeping the records of the important papers” and further cautioned that the latter should keep “track of procedural formalities and on completion of such formalities, records of important nature be kept by giving due importance.”