Stamp on power separation

Dimapur, Dec 11 (MExN): Coming as one of the most significant of developments in Nagaland state’s administrative polity in three decades, the Nagaland government will affect the much-debated separation of powers of the Judiciary from the Executive, in phases soon. The state government assured of the separation – and its subsequent implementation which is for now tentatively decided to affect from Dimapur – at a meeting held December 10 at Guwahati Chief Justice ‘s official residence between Chief Justice B Sudershan Reddy and Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio in Guwahati. 

The Chief Justice also assured that the separation will not result in the infringement of the jurisdiction and rights of Naga customary courts by either the High Courts or subordinate courts functioning under it. Customary courts will continue to discharge their normal functions unhindered as it is now, he assured.    

The Nagaland government, on its part, assured that the separation shall be implemented in phases in view of the “deficiency of court infrastructures” in various parts of the state, according to a government release from Additional Chief Secretary Lalthara. It was decided that the implementation will start from Dimapur Municipal area and would gradually cover the entire state ‘within a reasonable time frame’. 

The Chief Minister was accompanied by Chief Secretary, Additional Chief Secretary, Additional Secretary (Law) and Advocate General of Nagaland while the Chief Justice was accompanied by other senior judges and Registrar of Guwahati High Court. In the meeting in compliance to a Supreme Court directive, the Chief Justice reminded the state government that following a Cabinet decision, the government of Nagaland had already notified July 27, 1999, separation of the Executive from the Judiciary and also issued separate order placing the judicial officers of the state under the administrative control of the Guwahati High Court. A formal inaugural function to mark the separation was also held at Kohima on the same date. He, therefore, was of the view that no fresh decision on the part of the state government is required on this matter. It is only a matter of expediting the process of implementing the separation in the state which is becoming a matter of urgency in view of the Supreme Court’s latest directive.

The Chief Minister, also, while reaffirming the decision of the state government to implement separation had highlighted the need for protecting the functioning of Naga customary courts in terms of safeguards provided under Article 371-A of the Constitution. He held opinion that there are “still” some apprehensions in the minds of the general public of the state that separation may infringe on the rights and jurisdiction of customary courts to decide cases accordingly in customary practices and usages which, he felt, in many ways are simpler, speedier and more equitable or acceptable ways of delivering justice to simple villagers.