State should protect Naga Customary Law

Kenyuseng Tep
Former President Rengma Hoho

Nagaland state in 1963 was created under a special political agreement with The Indian Government recognizing all the ethos of the cultural, traditional and social practices of The Nagas.  It is protected under The Article 371(A) of The Indian Constitution. Since time immemorial Nagas had its own traditional and customary laws and it has been adhered and  practiced by all the communities of the Naga society. The customary laws of the Nagas deals with social, cultural, civil and  criminal laws. It is a supreme law that settles all social disorder and ensures social and political well-being of the Nagas. The customary laws of the Nagas are distinctively unique from what is practiced in the mainland India, the laws of the Nagas not only edifies and settles the dispute within the communities but also unite and weave the community together and build an unwavering bond of brotherhood within the community. 

The recent much talked about laws which have been passed by the Central Government of India such as The Uniform Civil Code(UCC), The Urban Local Body(ULB), The Forest Act. These laws which have been passed contradicts with the Naga customary laws and practices. A law which is not only alien but also conflicts with the principles and values of the community cannot be only practiced but also be adopted and accepted. The state government intentions to also bring Registration of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN) may sound like a protective measure for the Nagas but it is not logical that because of the fear of illegal immigrants the son of the soil to be brought under scrutiny. Such an act of rule will lead to far reaching consequences to the future generations of the Nagas and should not be looked at a single perspective.

The Nagas to have and practice our own customary law is a natural right and in the least do not go against any law of The Indian Constitution. If the Nagas invite any forced law that terrorize and threaten the traditional laws which have been holding the communities together for generations. The Nagas identity, the pulse of brotherhood and unity that holds the community together will be on its way to draw its last breathe as we make room for outlandish non-native laws

With much at stake The Nagaland State Assembly should quickly adopt a resolution and pass out a bill that protects and safeguard the Naga customary laws and implement it within the state before any law intrude and invade the unique ordinance of the state and community. For centuries, The Naga tribes and communities have harmoniously and efficiently functioned through the traditional customary laws and even today our unique customary laws have enough space to bring about good governance system in the State.  It is a need of the hour for the state government to make a comprehensive common customary law for the Nagas, for which a committee is immediately set up comprising of expertise on customary laws from different tribes and communities. To bring Nagas to a stable society any law passed by the assembly should have a consonant with the customaries of The Nagas.