The reality is Art 371(A) is the State

K Therie

It is wrong to believe that the Framework Agreement (FWA) has nullified Art 371(A). The FWA is not a part of the Constitution. It has not gone through the scrutiny of Parliament. Art 371(A) is part of the Constitution of India. Art 371(A) is the summary of the 16-Point Agreement that brought about Statehood. Remember, we are all enjoying the benefits.

Imkong L. Imchen’s comment that “Art. 371(A) Clause IV has become redundant”, is short of reading the foregoing note that has clearly defined it - ‘(1) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, (a) no Act of Parliament in respect of clause i, ii, iii & iv shall apply to the State of Nagaland unless the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland by a resolution so decides’.

Elected Members are expected to understand and uphold the Constitutional provisions. His comment is misleading and is in violation of the Oath for failing to uphold the Constitution.

Dr SC Jamir, former CM and Governor will correct us. He is a living signatory of Art 371(A) and it was in his time the opinions of Constitutional experts were sought. Former Chief Justice Mohammad Hidayatullah, Senior Counselor and Constitutional Consultant FS Nariman, etc, have interpreted that according to Art 371(A) clause iv, land and its resources belong to the people of Nagaland State.

If Government of India is misinterpreting, it is the responsibility of the State Government to strongly protest. Members of Parliament in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha can raise the issue and get it corrected from Parliament. If need be, a private bill can be moved to further clarify the provisions.

Terming the July 26, 2010 resolution of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly as unconstitutional and invalid is an insult to the State Assembly. The condemnation of the resolution implies he has accepted the interpretation of GOI as the final law. We cannot afford to lose such provisions without contest. The State Assembly should move a privilege motion against him, if the Assembly stands by its resolution. Freedom of expression cannot be used to mislead and distort facts. Freedom also comes with responsibility and disciplinary actions.

People may ask why the Congress could not deliver? There was lot of opposition against Art 371(A) at that time alleging that Art 371(A) has compromised sovereignty. Even temporary exploration license had to be cancelled to bring understanding for peaceful talks. We have restrained from extensive implementation of Art 371(A) to not provoke. Our priority has been to endeavor to solve the political problem through peaceful means.

Unfortunately for Nagaland, we do not have a constructive opposition. Right or wrong, good or bad, members will remain dumb, deaf and blind. Therefore, for the sake of the people, Governor of Nagaland has extra responsibilities.