Mr HS Shylla former Minister, CEM of the KHADC write to the Governor on the Sixth Schedule

Shillong, Jan 16: Mr HS Shylla former minister government of Meghalaya and former Chief Executive member of the KHADC today has written to the Governor of Meghalaya on the Representation of salient aspects of the Sixth Schedule.

The letter written by Mr HS Shylla from the SP News Agency has carried out as it is. At the outset, I would like to state that it is a rare privilege for me to be corresponding directly with you on a grave and urgent matter that is pivotal to the success of governance and leadership in the state of Meghalaya.

Kindly allow me to begin with a short introduction of myself. I have served the people of Meghalaya for over thirty years at various levels and capacities – as a Member of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly (MLA), a Minister in the state government and most recently as the Chief Executive Member of the KHADC. I have been at the forefront of many political initiatives and activities over the years and have had the privilege of introducing many important bills and policies in the state.

Having gained much experience and knowledge in the process of addressing concerns and needs of the people of the state these last many years, though I have now retired from active politics, I could not sit back and be aloof while the state is being rocked by the recent protests and demonstrations on CAA and the demand for ILP with no clear alternatives or solution in sight.

With your kind permission, I would like to place before you my humble, well-researched and examined representation on a solution that could address the present situation adequately. I believe that adopting a process that is constitutional and one that adheres to the law faithfully and dialoguing meaningfully across the table will be a much better investment of our time and efforts.

The length of the representation is regrettably long but understandably required in order to ensure clarity of content and of process.

I would like to begin by drawing your kind attention to Section 2 of the United Khasi-Jaintia Hills District (Application of Laws) Regulation, 1952 known as Regulation No. 5 of 1952 (Annexure – 1) whereas the power has been vested upon your good offices to issue a Notification with regard to any of the 225 laws which were selected and enumerated in the Schedule appended to the above Regulation No. 5 of 1952.

In this connection, it may be pointed out that the then Governor of Assam had issued one such Notification on 8 September 1961 with regard to bringing into force the Eastern Bengal and Assam Excise Act, 1910 by the power vested on him under Section 2 of the Regulation No. 5 of 1952 to the entire area falling within the jurisdiction of the United Khasi-Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council (UKJHADC). The said Eastern Bengal and Assam Excise Act, 1910 which is one of the laws in the Act included in the Schedule to the Regulation No. 5 of 1952.

The said Notification dt.  8 September 1961 was subsequently challenged in the Hon’ble High Court of Guwahati and Nagaland then, on the ground that paragraph 19 (1) (b) of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India had ceased to operate when the District Council was constituted on the 27 June 1952, and as such the legislative power of the Governor came to an end, likewise Regulation No. 5 of 1952 also lapsed with the lapsed of the power of the Governor to legislate.

The Hon’ble High Court accepted the petition and declared that the Notification dt. 8 September 1961 has no leg to stand upon and as such, there is no law to prohibit the appellants (L) Smti.  Byrhien Kurkalang and others to distil liquor in areas falling under the UKJHADC. The State Government then appealed the matter to the Hon’ble Supreme Court which was pleased to pass a nineteen-paragraph long judgment on 23 November 1971 (Annexure -2) declaring that the Regulation No. 5 of 1952 continue to operate as long as it remained in the statute book and that the said Notification dt. 8 September 1961 was validly issued.

Further, Regulation No. 5 of 1952 the said Eastern Bengal Frontier Regulation, 1873 is very much part of the Schedule, it would be most appropriate to consider the matter in this way. In the case of Meghalaya in general and the two District Councils – the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) and Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council (JHADC) – are concerned, it would only require a Notification to be issued by your esteemed office in accordance with the ruling of the Hon’ble Supreme Court – Quote “But the power conferred thereunder on the Governor to bring into force the laws set out in the Schedule continued and would continue so long as the Regulation remained on the statute book.” Unquote – for the ILP to be implemented in the state, especially in light of the fact that Meghalaya is exempted from the provisions of CAA 2019 being one of the states where the Sixth Schedule is in force.

In this connection, it may also be mentioned that the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly in its Special Session held on 19 December 2019 had unanimously adopted and passed a Resolution expressing its desire to implement the Eastern Bengal Frontier Regulation, 1873 (ILP) in the State of Meghalaya, which speaks volume of the fact that the people of Meghalaya together with all their Hon’ble MLAs stand united and are unanimous in their call for the urgent and unconditional implementation the Eastern Bengal Frontier Regulation, 1873 (ILP) in the State of Meghalaya.

There have been certain feeble and lame objections to the implementation of ILP in the state. Firstly, it is clearly understood that the implementation of ILP in any state does not seek to prevent the entrance of people from other states into that state in an attempt to isolate oneself from outside influences. Rather, the implementation of ILP is to adopt a measure/mechanism to assist the state machinery in regulating, as per provisions under Article 19 (5), the unbridled flow of persons to the state leading to the unmitigated dilution of the state’s uniqueness in terms of culture, language, customs and so on. Such a desire to preserve one’s own cultural roots, heritage and identity cannot be deemed to be parochial and primitive and/or alarmist. It is but a natural way of expressing one’s affection and affinity to what belongs to us, which also has the support and might of the Constitution as per provisions under Article 29.

Secondly, the case of the Garo Hills being left out of the process has also been cited without proper examination of its unique situation. It is unfortunate for the Garo Hills to be placed in such a position at present, however the fact that the British government in India had consciously revoked the relevant laws pertaining to the implementation of ILP in Garo Hills in 1897 through the Repealing Act of 1897 needs to be taken into consideration.

Further, it bears highlighting in this regard that Dr. Mukul Sangma during his tenure as the Chief Minister of Meghalaya had introduced the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act of 2016 to address the need for separate legislation for the Garo Hills in lieu of ILP. Hence, there is no apparent ground in this regard to denying the KHADC and the JHADC what is by law and more importantly by virtue of the Constitution of India their right and privilege.

Thirdly, the issue of Meghalaya being the thoroughfare of all North-Eastern States does not hold water as the National High Way connecting the various states in the North-Eastern Regions will not be disturbed by the implementation of the said Regulation of 1873.

The purpose of enacting the Regulation No. 5 of 1952 had a very significant impact on the erstwhile 25 Khasi States being brought to mainstream India without the signing of the Instrument of Merger. As such it would not only be right but constitutionally proper that the Eastern Bengal Frontier Regulation, 1873 be implemented through the Section 2 of Regulation 5 of 1952 than through a Notification to be issued by the President of India under Article 372 (2) as mentioned by the Hon’ble Chief Minister, Shri Conrad K. Sangma on the floor of the House on 19 December 2019. At the risk of appearing uncouth.

I would like to state here that the use of the said power [Article 372 (2)] referred to by Shri Sangma is governed by clause (3) which says – “Nothing in clause (2) shall be deemed – (a) to empower the President to make any adaptation or modification of any law after the expiration of (three years) from the commencement of the Constitution.” Unquote. Hence, it would tantamount to a direct violation of the Constitution of India by our President if a notification is issued in such a manner as stated, unequivocally, by our Chief Minister, Shri Conrad K. Sangma.

Dear Sir, I have greatly stretched your patience thin, I am sure but it is not without proper justifiable reason. I have attempted, within the powers of ability and knowledge, to place before you what I sincerely believe is the best and most appropriate way, which is Constitutional and legally sound, to address the current issue amicably. I have also briefly highlighted clarifications on objections to the implementation of ILP in the state.

I sincerely request you to kindly intervene on behalf of the people of Meghalaya and assume the powers that have been vested upon you adequately in this regard as per the provisions of Section 2 of Regulation 5 of 1952.We, the people of Meghalaya, shall remain ever grateful to you as I am at this very moment to you for having taken the time to peruse this document. (H. S. Shylla)Former Minister and Former CEM, KHADC,  Lumkhyriem, Itshyrwat, East Khasi Hills District, Shillong.



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