All party committee to empower village bodies

SHILLONG, March 10 – Meghalaya Government on Wednesday constituted an all party committee for empowering indigenous village bodies.

The decision was taken at an all party meeting chaired by the Chief Minister here with all the representatives and leaders of the villages, ‘durbars’ and various ‘himas’ and ‘elakas’, whose roles and functions were questioned by the High Court’s ruling in December last year. Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said there was a consensus among those who attended which reflected the common objective on the need to institutionalise these bodies.

“Let us constitute a small committee, with representatives from all political parties, for empowering and institutionalising the traditional bodies,” he said, after giving a patient hearing to all who aired their opinions.

Chief Adviser to the government and former Chief Minister DD Lapang was made the chairman of the committee whose members were drawn from among the stakeholders from the villages and other bodies.

While traditional bodies were asked to suggest their representatives in the committee within 48 hours, Chief Executive Members and one opposition member from each of the Autonomous District Councils were made members. The Committee was given a three months’ period to complete its exercise in submitting its report to the State Government.

In the High Court ruling in December last year, the Bench observed that a village/locality headman did not derive any right from law, and rule or from the Constitution to issue NOC for the purpose of birth/death or for registration of any document as well as for building permission and obtaining loan.