The Nagaland government has told the Supreme Court that the election process for urban local bodies in the state will be completed by April 30.
In November, the Nagaland Assembly passed a bill reserving 33 per cent seats in urban local bodies for women. Urban local body elections in the state were last held in 2004.
A bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia took note of an affidavit filed by the Nagaland chief secretary earlier this month that said the rules will be framed within a month — before January 8.
“An affidavit has been filed on behalf of the chief secretary of the state of Nagaland affirming that the Nagaland Municipal Act, 2023, was passed on November 9, 2023, by the Nagaland Legislative Assembly and was notified on the same day after receiving the assent of the governor,” it noted.
“It is further stated that the rules will be framed within a month from the date of the affidavit, ie on or before January 8, 2024, and the election process will be completed by April 30, 2024,” the bench noted in its order passed on December 11.
It posted the matter for hearing on May 3.
The apex court is hearing a petition filed by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties and others seeking 33 per cent reservation for women in urban local bodies in the northeastern state.
The petitioners moved an application before the top court against the cancellation of elections and urged it to take contempt action against those concerned for “disobeying” its March 14 order regarding the poll process.
“Notice of contempt can be discharged on the next date as by that time elections will be over,” the bench noted in its December 11 order.
While hearing the matter in July, the top court had slammed both the Centre and the Nagaland government over non-implementation of the constitutional scheme of one-third reservation for women in urban local bodies.
The top court had asked the Centre to clarify whether the constitutional scheme of quotas for women in municipality and town council elections could be violated by Nagaland, where the assembly had earlier passed a resolution to repeal the municipal act and resolved not to hold elections to the urban local bodies.
The state assembly had passed the resolution following pressure from tribal organisations and civil society groups.
These organisations had said Naga customary laws do not allow women to participate equally in political and socio-economic decision-making bodies.
On March 30, the State Election Commission (SEC) of Nagaland issued a notification cancelling the election programme notified earlier “till further orders” in view of the repeal of the municipal act.
However, the apex court had on April 5 stayed the SEC notification.
Besides seeking quashing of the March 30 notification issued by the SEC cancelling the election schedule, the application filed by the petitioners also sought setting aside of the Nagaland Municipal (Repeal) Act, 2023.
Several Naga tribal bodies and civil society organisations had opposed urban local body elections under the Nagaland Municipal Act, 2001, asserting that it infringed on the special rights for Nagaland guaranteed by Article 371-A of the Constitution.
The 2001 act, which was amended later, made 33 per cent reservation for women mandatory for holding urban local body elections, as directed by the Supreme Court.