Proceedings of Budget Session of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly held at 9 A.M. on Wednesday the 19th June, 1974 in the Assembly Chamber, Shillong.
Mr. Speaker in the Chair.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
(To which oral replies were given)
Lawbah- Thyllaw Road
Shri Kisto M. Roy Marbaniang asked :
Will the Minister-in-charge of Revenue be pleased to state -
(a) The date on which land for the Lawbah-Thyllaw Road was acquired and handed over to the Public Works Department?
(b) The date on which the award was made by the Collector ?
(c) The date on which the first and last payment of compensation was made to the landowners ?
(d) The number of land-owners who have not yet received payment of compensation and the reasons there of ?
Shri Brington Buhai Lyngdoh (Minister-in-charge of Revenue) replied :
(a) The land for the Lawbah Thyllaw Road has not been handed over to the Public Works Department.
(b) The award has not yet been made by the Collector. It is under process of enquiry regarding the claim of the interested persons.
(c) & (d) - Do not arise.
Mr. Speaker :- But the Minister-in-charge of Revenue has not mentioned the date on which the land of the Lawbah-Thyllaw Road was acquired.
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Revenue) :- Acquisition has not yet been completed, Sir. The processes are on.
Shri Kisto Mohon Roy Marbaniang :- Question 3 (a)., Sir. The work was started since 1971 and 90 per cent of the work has been completed.
Shri H. Hadem :- That is argumentative, Sir.
Shri Kisto Mohon Roy Marbaniang :- I hope I should not be disturbed.
Mr. Speaker :- You can put the question straightway that when the land has not been acquired how can the work be started.
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Revenue) :- These are cases of advance possessions.
Shri S.D. Khongwir :- Has the compensation statement been prepared by the P.W.D. ?
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Revenue) :- I require notice for that question.
Shri Maham Singh :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, has a notification been issued for acquisition of the land ?
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Revenue) :- Yes, Sir
Shri S.D. Khongwir :- What is the present position of the acquisition proceedings ?
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Revenue) :- It is nearing completion, since several stages of acquisition are involved but the process is towards completion.
Shri H. Hadem :- I want to raise a point of order. The hon. Member has crossed 3 supplementary questions.
Shri S.D. Khongwir :- But Sir, I told you that I have got one new question but became have crossed three I will not ask any further question.
(To which replies were laid on the table)
Assistant Inspector of Schools for Khasi Hills District
Prof. Martin Narayan Majaw asked :
Will the Chief Minister be pleased to state -
(a) How long has the Assistant Inspector of Schools for Khasi Hills District been lying vacant ?
(b) Whether this post will be filled up by persons selected by the Meghalaya Public Service Commission ?
(c) Whether this post now been filled up ?
(d) If so, was this done on the recommendation of Public Service Commission ?
(e) Whether it is fact that the order appointing an Officer to this post was issued about five or six days before the Commission issued an advertisement calling for applications for this post ?
Capt. Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : replied :
(a) - The post had been lying vacant from 15th May, 1972, the date on which the Officer holding the post was retired from service.
(b) - The post will be filled up on a regular basis by a person to be selected from the list of nominees to be recommended by the Meghalaya Public Service Commission.
(c) - Yes Sir. The past has been filled up as a stop gap arrangement, under Regulation, 3 (f) of the Meghalaya Public Service Commission (Limitation of Functions) Regulations, 1972, as amended.
(d) - Appointment under Regulation 3 (f) of the Meghalaya Public Service Commission (Limitation of Functions) Regulations does not require the recommendation of the Commission.
(e) - No, Sir. The order appointing an Officer against this post under Regulation 3 (f) was issued on 3rd May, 1974. The Commission issued the advertisement for the post of 30th April, 1974 as it appears from their Memo No. M. 16/1/74-75, dated 30th April, 1974.
Shri Maham Singh :- 14(c). Was there any need for this post in between 15th May, 1972 and May 1973. ?
Shri D.D. Pugh (Minister of State for Education) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, obviously the need was there
Shri Maham Singh :- Why the post was not filled up during this period when there was need for the post before May 1974 ?
Shri D.D. Pugh (Minister of State for Education) :- It was in the process of being filled up. We could not complete the process.
Shri H. Hadem :- 14(c) When the advertisement had been issued 3 days back why the stop-gap arrangement has to be mage ?
Shri D.D. Pugh (Minister of State for Education) :- Mr. Speaker Sir, this action was taken in the public interest because time and again the Inspector of Schools, Khasi Hills, has requested the Government to make the appointment of the Assistant Inspectors of schools as she found it very difficult to cope with the work. Therefore, the work was suffering. Even applied for two months' leave and we as a Government just could not think of allowing the Inspector of Schools going on leave without at least the Assistant Inspector of Schools in position.
Shri F.K. Mawlot :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, are we to understand that when the Inspector of Schools was going on leave that post would remain vacant ?
Shri D.D. Pugh (Minister of State for Education) :- We have waited for the normal procedure.
Prof. M.N. Majaw :- When did the Inspector of Schools apply for leave.
Shri D.D. Pugh (Minister of State for Education) :- I cannot remember the exact date.
Mr. Speaker :- Let us pass on to Unstarred Question No. 15.
House rent allowance to State Government employees.
Shri G. Mylliemngap asked :
Will the Minister -in-charge of Finance be pleased to state -
(a) The date from which the granting of House rent allowance to State Government employees takes effect ?
(b) Whether it is a fact that Government proposes to withdraw the House rent allowance ?
(c) If so, why ?
(d) Whether it is a fact that there is disparity in respect of the period for granting house rent allowance between Shillong, Jowai and Tura. ?
(d) Whether it is a fact that there is disparity in respect of the period for granting house rent allowance between Shillong, Jowai and Tura. ?
(e) If so, why ?
Shri Brington Buhai Lyngdoh (Minister of Finance ) replied :
(a) - Just July 1970
(b) - There is no such proposal at present.
(c) - Does not arise.
(d) - Yes.
(e) - The allowance has been sanctioned for Tura and Jowai upto 31st December 1974 and for Shillong upto 30th June 1974. The reasons for sanction of the allowance for Shillong upto and earlier date was the expected availability of residential accommodation consequent upon the shifting of Assam Government Capital to Dispur. However, the proposal for further extension of the period is under consideration of the Government
Traveling Allowance and Dearness Allowance drawn by the staff of Weights and Measures :
Shri Kisto M. Roy Marbaniang asked :
Will the Minister-in-charge of Weights and Measures be pleased to state -
(a) The amount of Travelling Allowance and Dearness allowance drawn by the staff of Weights and Measures Department during 1972-73 and 1973-74 ?
(b) The propose of their tour for which amount was drawn ?
Shri Brington Buhai Lyngdoh (Minister-in-charge of Weights and Measures) : replied
(a) Rs. 4,300.00 in 1972-73 and Rs. 8,500.00 in 1973-74.
(b) For adoption and enforcement of the metric system in the State and also for undergoing training in weights and measures by the staff.
Shri K.M. Roy Marbaniang :- 16(b). Whether the tour allowances which have been given to the Weights and Measures Department include also the tour in the border hats of Khasi Hills like Balat, Rengku etc ?
Shri Brington Buhai Lyngdoh (Minister-in-charge of Weights and Measures) : Yes, Sir.
Shri K.M. Roy Marbaniang :- If so, are Government aware that up-till -now measurement in these areas is still being done by the old system of measurement. ?
Shri Brington Buhai Lyngdoh (Minister-in-charge of Weights and Measures) : It is a question of adoption.
Mr. Speaker :- This is a piece of information that the Government should take note of.
Shri H. Hadem :- 16 (b). Mr. Speaker, Sir, in the reply it has been stated "for adoption and enforcement of the metric system in the State". I want to know by whom adoption is to be made.
Shri Brington Buhai Lyngdoh (Minister-in-charge of Weights and Measures) :- By the business people.
Mr. Speaker :- Unstarred Question No. 17.
Market Allowances in the Urban Areas and Rural Areas
Shri Hopingstone Lyngdoh asked :
Will the Minister -in-charge of Finance be pleased to state -
(a) Whether there are Government Offices who are in receipt of bazar or market allowances in the urban areas and rural areas. ?
(b) If so, there names with designation and the rate of such allowances given to them ?
(c) The reason for granting bazar or market allowances to such officers ?
(d) Whether the Government propose to grant such allowances to the other officers also ?
Shri Brington Buhai Lyngdoh (Minister-in-charge of Weights and Measures) :- replied
(a) There are no Government Officers who are in receipt of bazar or market allowances in the urban areas and rural areas.
(b) (b) & (c) - Does not arise.
(d) - No.
VOTING ON DEMANDS FOR GRANTS
Mr. Speaker :- Let us pass on to second item. Voting on Demands for grants. The Minister-in-charge of Parliamentary Affairs to move Grant No. 1.
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister for Parliamentary Affairs) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, on the recommendation of the Governor, I beg, to move that an amount of Rs. 16,67,900 be granted to the Minister-in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1975 for the administration of the head "211- Parliament, State/Union Territory Legislatures - B- State Legislature".
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. I have received on Cut Motion, I put the question before the House. The question is that an amount of Rs. 16,67,900 be granted to the Minister-in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1975 for the administration of the head "211- Parliament, State/Union Territory Legislatures - B- State Legislature".
(After a pause)
The motion is carried. Demand is passed. Grant No. 2. Since the Chief Minister is away may I ask the Minister-in-charge of Finance to move Grant No. 2.
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister for Finance ) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, on the recommendation of the Governor, I beg, to move that an amount of Rs. 10,000 be granted to the Minister-in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1975 for the administration of the head " 212 - Governor".
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. I have received on Cut Motion, I put the question before the House. The question is that an amount of Rs. 10,000 be granted to the Minister-in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1975 for the administration of the head " 212 - Governor".
(After a pause)
The motion is carried. Demand is passed. Grant No. 3. Since the Chief Minister is away may I ask the Minister-in-charge of Finance to move Grant No. 3
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister for Finance ) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, on the recommendation of the Governor, I beg, to move that an amount of Rs. 4,75,000 be granted to the Minister-in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1975 for the administration of the head "213 - Council of Ministers".
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. I have received on Cut Motion, I put the question before the House. The question is that an amount of Rs. 4,75,000 be granted to the Minister-in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1975 for the administration of the head " 212 - Governor".
(After a pause)
The motion is carried. Demand is passed. Grant No. 4. Since the Chief Minister is away may I ask the Minister-in-charge of Finance to move Grant No. 4
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister for Finance ) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, on the recommendation of the Governor, I beg, to move that an amount of Rs. 6,43,300 be granted to the Minister-in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1975 for the administration of the head "214 - Administration of Justice".
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. I have received one cut motion from Shri S.N. Koch. Mr. Koch to move his cut motion.
Shri Humphrey Hadem :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to raise a point of order in this particular cut motion. In the notice given by your Secretariat, Sir, it was clearly stated in item 3 that "attention of the hon. Members is drawn to Assembly Rule 145, specifying the limits to which reduction can be proposed in disapproval of the policy cut, economy cut or token cut". But , Sir, this cut motion is vague and irregular. Let me point out Sir, that the hon. member intending to move the cut motion said in the last sentence "that the amount of the whole Budget of Rs. 6,43,300 do stand reduced to Re.1". Here I want to stress on the word 'budget'. According to the provision of Rule 139, in which the word 'budget' was clearly defined "Budget means the annual financial statement which statement contains both the estimated receipts and expenditures of the State in respect of every financial year. So, the word "budget does not mean one demand but includes the receipts and expenditures for the whole financial year.
Again Sir, I would like to draw your kind attention to Rule 145(a) which deals with the "policy cut". Here, according to this sub-rule, a cut motion may be moved to reduce the amount to Re.1. This is the form of the cut motion to be moved. But here the hon. Member has not referred to the demand as specified by the rules but only stated the whole budget. Over and above that it can be clearly seen from the list of to-day's business where it was stated "the budget list of demands. So, the budget includes so many demands. Therefore, this cut motion as it stands, is vague and irregular and liable to be disallowed. This is my humble submission.
Shri S.D Khongwir :- Sir, on this particular point, I have got a torn out piece of form for moving the cut motions. I think, Mr. Speaker, Sir, there must be some printing mistakes because not only in this particular Grant but in other Grants also like Grants Nos. 6,7 and so on. We have seen the same words being used "that the amount of the whole budget of rupees so and so". But here in the form there is nothing like "i.e. the amount of the whole budget". I have got a torn out from which I have pieced together and I find that the word "budget" is not there. It must be the addition by the Government Press or by the Assembly Secretariat.
Prof. M.N. Majaw :- May I further point out, Mr. Speaker, Sir, that yesterday while going through the files to refresh our memory we noticed that the cut motions that had been filled up by the hon. Members were pinned with small sheets of papers. There were typed out by the Assembly Secretariat and sent to the press. So, I would suggest that it may be likely that the printer's devil has played tricks with some of these papers which were sent to the Press for Printing, since the original form does not have the word 'budget' in that particular line. In any case, Mr. Speaker, Sir, in this particular matter, as the House is still waiting for the files to come, I think we may allow the hon. Member to move his cut motion and speak on the important points relating to this demand. In any case the outcome of cut motion is known.
Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Agriculture) :- We cannot allow that, Sir, because the pending motion before the House is whether this cut motion is regular or irregular. Unless that question is decided we cannot proceed further.
Shri S. D. Khongwir :- Let us wait and find out who has manufactured this word 'budget'. In any case we have never written the word 'budget' in the cut motion forms.
Mr. Speaker :- We are waiting for the original.
Shri S.D.D. Nichols-Roy (Minister, Industries) :- All except Grant No.18 are in the form that has been pointed out by the mover of the point of order. Only Grant No.17, is in the correct form, it seems.
Prof. M.N. Majaw :- It appears to be a universal mistake.
Shri H. Hadem :- If the form is correct and it has been done correctly, I think the hon. Member would have pointed out before I raise the point or order. The question arose only when the point of order was raised.
Shri S.D. Khongwir :- That is not our point.
Mr. Speaker :- It appears you become conscious of other cut motions. Mr. Koch has not defended himself. But in spite of that we will find out the facts.
Prof. M.N. Majaw :- Whether the time now being lost will be added up at the end ? (Voice - This is the question hour)
Prof. M.N. Majaw :- The debates have been fixed for 3½ hours on the voting on demands for grants.
Mr. Speaker :- May I know from Mr. Koch what actually did he write in that form ?
Shri S.N. Koch (Mendipathar) :- I cannot remember now unless I scrutinize what I wrote.
Mr. Speaker :- Are you not aware of your own cut motion.
Shri S.N. Koch :- Which portion, Sir? But in my notice I remember that I wrote - 'To raise the discussion on the subject disapproving the Government policy on Administration of Justice"
Mr. Speaker :- It is important since it is mentioned the amount of the whole budget which should have been the amount of the whole grant. In that case I will disallow it.
Shri S.N. Koch :- Sir, the form is correct and it is a printed form. We simply fill it up.
Mr. Speaker :- Yes, the form is correct. The rule says that the amount of demand of so much stands reduced to Rs.1.00. You should bring the amount of one demand which stands reduced to Rs.1.00 and not the whole budget. That is the rule.
Shri S.N. Koch :- Sir, not the whole budget but the grant. I think, Sir, there must be some mistake or slip of pen.
Shri H. Hadem :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to submit that if in the form it is given "budget", it is in the interest of the member when he was called upon to be aware of the rules.
Mr. Speaker :- So for the information of the House the form in which the hon. Member has filled up is in order and it is purely a case of printing mistake or typing mistake or whatever it may be. Therefore in this particular case the word "Budget" should be substituted by the word "grant"
So we will cross the bridges when we come to them. I will check up one after another. Mr. Koch to move the cut motion.
Prof. M.N. Majaw :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, on a point of information. The important point it whether the mistake is made by the press or the staff because we are going to move a cut motion on Printing and Stationery and it will add more ammunition to the arguments (Loud Laughter).
Mr. Speaker :- I have already ruled that the form is correct and the case of typing or printing mistake does not arise. It is not the interest of the House whether it is typing or printing mistake. The interest of the House is whether the member has filled up the form correctly or not. Mr. Koch may start now.
Shri S. N. Koch :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that the total provision of Rs. 6,43,300 under Grant No. 4, Major Head "214-Administration of Justice", at page 17 of the Budget be reduced to Re.1 i.e, the amount of the whole grant of Rs. 6,43,300 do stand reduced to Re.1.
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. So now you can raise the discussion on the subject disapproving the Government policy on Administration of Justice.
Shri S.N. Koch :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, ours is a democratic set up of Government and in a democratic country, for its successful working, three things are necessary. i.e. the executive, legislature and the judiciary. So for the successful functioning of democracy there must be these three pillars and one of those pillars is Judiciary. But unfortunately due to certain curious historical reasons, in this part of our country the administration of justice as a whole does not benefit the citizens of our State as the people in other parts of the country are getting. At the time of general discussion on the Budget I spoke about the origin of this administration of justice. The origin of the administration of justice which now we are having, out-dated, unsuitable as the same was given by the foreign rulers to suit their autocracy and despotism, terming us as uncivilized and barbarous and quite unfit to reap the benefit of civilised laws. If uncivilized laws are enforced, then instead of doing justice to them, more injustice is sure to follow. How far that contention is correct is to be assessed according to the time and circumstances. In any case, now we had our independence and it is the endeavour of our Government at national level and State level throughout the country that there should be an independent judiciary. Because the executive has to do many things, for the well-being of the people. Our State is a welfare State and that is why we are bound to pursue welfare activities, and in this pursuit it is natural for the executive to come in a tussle between the people and the authorities. So, if difference arises between the people and the authority the Judiciary should come in between. Moreover, the State is empowered with certain powers like police, jail and so many other things. So unless there is an independent judiciary, it is very likely that the executive will take the authority and turn into a despot or become a tyrant and the interest of the people will suffer.
So, Sir, the time has now come that the general laws of the land specially in respect of procedural laws such as Cr.P.C. and CP.C. should be applied in our State also. Why the Cr.P.c. and C.P.C. should be applied? Because these are procedural laws which tell us how to arrest a man, how to send him to jail and how trials should take place. Unfortunately the law given by the foreign rulers does not provide any such procedure as to how a man should be arrested and what the police should do after arrest and so on. It is only the Cr.P.C. which provides these. Specially after our independence under the Constitution of India. the right to liberty was made a fundamental right of our citizens. Now if the police or the executive at their sweet will can arrest a man whom the Government or the authorities or the police does not like, what will happen? There is no answer to this since the Cr. P.C. does not apply in our State, and under the administration of justice there is nothing of this sort. It is silent.
The whole procedural law, that is, the Cr.P.C. is meant to protect the interest of the persons who are either suspected or whom the Executive wants to ring under the ambit of certain laws either to punish or to impose some restriction on them. Now, it is only the Cr. P.C. which can protect a person; but unfortunately, though the Hon'ble Law Minister. in the first Session after the General Elections in 1972 made certain commitments that our new State will make endeavours to separate the Judiciary from the Executive, yet nothing tangible has been done in this respect. Moreover, at present. We are under double-court system. There is one District Council Court in the district level and one at the State level. The Sixth Schedule to the Constitution provides for the establishment of a District Court under the District Council. Now, Sir, whether the court is established under the District Council or under the State Government but what I feel is that the duty of the court is to give justice to the people whoever the master may be. Now, we hear so much about national integration but, unfortunately the provision of the Sixth Schedule clearly says that the District Council will have the power to try only when the parties happen to be tribals. This is in my humble opinion. Contrary to the policy enunciated in the national level and specially when we have achieved our own State if we allow this system to be continued, then we may not be in a position to go forward hand in hand with the rest of the country without any discrimination between castes and communities. So, Sir, I was expecting that during the 1974-75 Budget Session our Hon'ble Law Minister would be coming with a policy statement of the Government on separation of the Judiciary from the Executive. More so when the Parliament has come up with the new amended Cr.P.C. in which we will find substantial changes in the procedure, just to keep in tune with the times. The Parliament, for reasons best known to them, have made the Cr.P.C. not applicable in this part of the country when the Cr.P.C. came into force on 1st April. For the time being, both the courts and the Police are in confusion whether, if anybody commits murder, the Police has the power to arrest that murderer since the administration of justice does not provide with any such procedure for apprehending a culprit. In this connection I would like to refer to an incident of my misfortune in one particular case in which a man was arrested after 1st April 1974, i.e.. after the newly amended Cr.P.C came into being for dacoity in which case I was to defend him and for the first time I had to raise the question. Under which provision of law he could be detained but the honourable Court was helpless to give its legal verdict either way. In any case, because the Police has the power, whether legal or illegal, the man was detained in hawlat. Again, Sir, because the Executive is to exercise judiciary function also and because the functions of the Executive have no become multifarious, the Executive has but little time to attend to the legal matters as a result of which there are delays and I sincerely believe that our Law Minister has better knowledge in this respect than I have. Though the litigants are coming months after months from far of places because some litigations are hanging over their heads either to be punished or justice done to them, they are so unfortunate that they do not see even the faces of the magistrates in the courts and sometimes it appears as Hindu Risis and Sanyasis go to Himalaya to make 'taspasya for the darshana of God. The litigants come to the courts of law and make 'tapasaya' for the darshna of the magistrates but they are to go back disappointed. So, Sir, the Judiciary exists in our State only in name but justice is not done to the people. I believe it is high time for the Government and the hon. Members to come up and accept the challenge of the time and give relief to the people Mr. Speaker, Sir, as I have spoken on several occasions in the past and also during the last general discussion on the budget I would not like to take much time in this respect because. While I was absent yesterday, I have come to know that our Hon'ble Law Minister has said that the Government is alive to the situation and that it is taking all possible steps to re-orient Judiciary in our State. So, I would request the Government, through you, Sir, that the District Council Courts be abolished and for which the recent amendment to the Constitution has empowered the Government under the Sixth Schedule that all the courts be brought under the State and that the Judiciary be separated from the Executive so that a man who comes with his grievances to the Executive does not get the same wrong and the complainants should not be allowed to sit as a budget under such circumstances we cannot expect to get justice when one of the parties is the litigant. Here the Executive, under the present set up of things., are the complainants. So they arrest the accused person and their sole endeavour is definitely to punish the man so arrested though our law says : Let 10 murderers be allowed to go unpunished but not a single innocent person be punished. That is the law of the land. But here it is just the contrary, i.e., ten innocent persons are being punished because the judge is the man who comes with the complaint that such and such person has done something wrong to him or to the society. As such the real culprits are going Scot free while innocent are being punished. Moreover, Sir, under the new Cr.P.C. it has been specifically laid down that no Government cases should be conducted by the Police Officer below the rank of Inspector. But since the Cr. P.c. does not apply in our State. Still we find the Government cases are being conducted by the Sub-Inspector or Police. As these Sub-Inspectors are the persons who are lower in rank, experience and capability in most of the cases the culprits go unpunished. These Sub-Inspectors of Police when posted in Police Station as Officer-in-charge create the law and order problem while arresting culprits because they are the innocent persons instead of apprehending real culprits and amass their fortune. There are hundreds and hundreds to of cases like this. It is my personal experience that there are three or four cases in which I myself was a complainant but myself being an advocate or a Member of the Legislative Assembly. I cannot go to the Police Station and bribe the officer concerned when they did not apprehend the culprits. Here I would like to refer to an incident of recent occurrence wherein two Napalee people had a clash and they lodged an 'ejahar' with the Phulbari Police Station. But the Police Personnel after preliminary enquiry did not take up the case considering the same to be of civil nature and did not accept the 'ejahar'. So the poor Napalee fellow had to come with ghee to Tura to convince the Police that it was a criminal case and got his ejahar registered after 5 or 6 days.
Mr. Speaker :- When this incident took place ?
Shri S.N. Koch :- It was in the last part of May and now it is in the court of law.
Mr. Speaker :- Mr. Koch you being a responsible Member of the Assembly and also as a responsible advocate you should not discuss any matter on the floor of the House which is still pending with the court of law. You are pleading for administration of justice but such an act on your part would rather hamper the cause of justice in the State.
Shri S.N. Koch :- Any way, these are the things which are going on for a long time in our State. Hon. Members are fully aware that there were no communal disturbances in the border areas with Bangladesh even in those days of erstwhile East Pakistan. When there was provocation from across the border, there was complete communal harmony in our side. But after the creation of Meghalaya as a full-fledged State within the last 8 months of 1974 there were 20/25 cases of dacoity and murder in Garo Hills District, the number of criminal cases is becoming larger and larger due to the corrupt Police Officer.
Mr. Speaker :- Mr. Koch, I think you are stretching your arms beyond the limit ; you are emphasizing from the very beginning the need for a free and impartial judiciary for successful working of democracy but here you are trying to hamper the cause of justice by discussing here all those matters which are pending with the court of law. I think your earlier portion of the speech is quite relevant and not the latter portion.
Shri S. N. Koch :- Any-way I would like to sum up my views; I would only urge upon our Government to take prompt and immediate action to separate judiciary from the executive, apply the Cr.P.C. , C.P.C. Transfer of Property Act, Limitation Act, etc. so that our people also may get the justice as is the case with the rest of the country.
Mr. Speaker :- Any other hon. Member ?
Shri Maham Singh :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I fully support what has been stated by the mover of the cut motion that it is high time for the Government to consider the necessity of bringing about changes in the administration of justice. It is is regretted and unfortunate that the Government has not considered this matter earlier. Mr. Speaker, Sir, some laws and rules were introduced about hundred years ago in this part of our country and these same rules and laws are being administered by our courts at present. Mr. Speaker, Sir, before independence the Deputy Commissioner was the man in the district who had all the powers and the system of Government was not at all democratic. The Deputy Commissioner was the most powerful man in the District and was more or less a despot. Mr. Speaker, Sir, at that time he was the executive and judicial head in the District, he could pass orders by issuing notification and those had the force of law. Mr. Speaker, Sir, the Deputy Commissioner practically exercised legislative, executive and judiciary functions in the District. He was the person who had the right to try all cases as an original court and also had the authority of an appellate court. Now time has come, when there should be change in these laws. We should give our people a sense of security and make them feel that there are courts of law to give them justice, to give them protection against all illegal acts and oppression. But at present so far as the administration of justice in our State is concerned, we find there is a great confusion, there is great discrimination. We find there is one set of rules applicable to one section of the people, there is another set of rules for another section, one set of rules is made applicable to non-tribals another for tribals, one set of rules applies to certain areas in one District and another set of rules applies to another part of the State. We have the Civil Procedure Code applied only in a certain areas of the Shillong Municipality and only the spirit of the Civil Procedure Code is applied to the same areas of the State. In the autonomous district areas again we find that a certain court i.e. the District Council Court having jurisdiction only over tribals but not on non-tribals. There are cases arising between tribals and non tribals and we find that this same court cannot try cases where out of numerous persons who are parties in a suit only one person happened to be a non-tribal. If the case is between tribal and non-tribal the District Council Court cannot try those cases. If both the parties are non-tribals also the District Council Court cannot try those cases. Hence, we find that in the administration of justice in this district there is a lot of discrimination.
Mr. Speaker :- Are you in favour of abolition of the District Council Courts suggested by the Mover of the Cut Motion.
Shri Maham Singh :- Actually, it is necessary that there should be a uniformity of law. In so far as the procedure is concerned, the same law should be made applicable to all sections of the people. If it is necessary that the District Council Courts should be abolished, I feel that we should abolish these Courts. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I feel that besides uniformity, these laws which were introduced hundred years ago are not suitable to govern a society which has undergone major changes in the social, as well as in the economic life. What do we find hundred years ago, the value of land is very low and the people at that period of time, are not so rich. At that time also there are Civil Courts like the Village Courts, the Syiem Courts and above them there is the Court of the Deputy Commissioner. Mr. Speaker, Sir, even at present we find these village courts having jurisdiction to try civil cases even if the land and property is of any value. In other words these village Courts have even new unlimited jurisdiction to try all civil cases irrespective of the value of the property. With regard to criminal offences however the village courts have jurisdiction to try only petty offences and they cannot impose a fine more than Rs. 50. But Sir, with regard to Civil Justice they have even now unlimited jurisdiction. Most of these Courts are illiterate and do no know how to try cases properly, but all persons involved in cases if they are tribals have to submit to their jurisdiction. We find in many cases a great deal of time and money is wasted, and persons seeking relief for any civil wrong committed to them or their property fail to get justice for these Village Courts do not know how to try cases. Therefore, Sir, with regard to the jurisdiction of Village Courts over civil disputes I feel there should be a change at present. It may be fixed that if the value of property is Rs. 500 or more, then in all such cases, the Village Courts should not be given power to try. These cases must be tried by persons who are more experienced and who possess at least a little knowledge of law so that justice can be done.
Mr. Speaker :- But you have stated that the price had gone up. If you reduce it to Rs. 500 they will have no judicial power at all.
Shri Maham Singh :- Yes, Mr. Speaker, Sir, the Village Court should try only cases where the value of the property involved is less than Rs. 500 (Rupees five hundred). If the value of property is more than Rs. 500 then those cases should be tried by other Courts, who have better understanding and are capable to try such cases according to the procedure laid down in the Civil Procedure Code. Because, I feel the Village Courts are unfit to try such cases. Mr. Speaker, Sir, there are other changes required in the administration of justice, If we are to administer real justice to the people. I will not go into the details of these changes. Besides the legal changes I want to bring to the notice of the Government that although Jowai has been formed into a separate district .....(interruption)....
Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Agriculture) :- Not Jowai District, it must be Jaintia Hills District.
Shri Maham Singh :- A separate District has been formed but the basic needs of a District for proper administration of justice have not been provided by Government. In this District a Jail has not been constructed and there is only a police lock-up. One of the main difficulties arises in the recording of confession made by the under-trial prisoners. In the absence of a judicial look-up confessions recorded of accused persons are of no value. The accused persons are produced from a police look-up to the recording Magistrate.
Mr. Speaker :- Don't you think that confessions these days have become meaningless ?
Shri Maham Singh :- It is not meaningless in all cases. They are of great, value if they are recorded properly according to law. Sir, I feel that the present system of trial of cases in our administration should be changed because time has demanded that there should be a change.
Mr. Speaker :- So your contention is that there should be uniformity of procedure and rules, etc.
Shri Maham Singh :- Also, Mr. Speaker, Sir, the jurisdiction and powers of different Courts in the State should also be defined according to the value of the case, and the class of cases. It should be clearly and specifically laid down when courts should try what cases. With these few words, Sir, I support the cut motion moved by the hon. member from Mendipathar.
Shri Jor Manik Syiem :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, while appreciating some of the observations made by my hon. friends, I would like to oppose the cut motion on these grounds.
Meghalaya Courts are so numerous and are at different stages of development. In Khasi Hills specially we have village courts, we have the Additional subordinate courts, the District Council Courts and State Court. Now beginning from the village courts which are being tried by the village elders who are more or less illiterate, I would say that we cannot expect them to strictly follow the procedure of laws.
Even in the additional subordinate courts as my friend from Mawprem has expressed, some presiding officers cannot even make out or write a word of depositions. So it is not possible to expect that these courts can follow the Cr. P.C. or C.P.C.
But in so far as the District Council courts are concerned, I would like to inform the House that we find that separation has almost been complete. The District Council is like a legislative body and there is the Executive Committee which exercises executive power and a court to decide cases. So there will no objection to the District Council Courts and indeed we should give them credit for their efforts to separate their different functions.
In so far as State Courts are concerned, my hon. friend knows that the Government are taking steps to separate and to regularise the position. It is no possible to expect that by a stroke of pen from the Law Minister he will be able to complete the whole proceedings. Of course, there is room for improvement of these courts. They may be State Courts or District Councils courts. But some-times the police investigation reports take a long time for investigating cases. The police take a long time to send up such cases to the courts and also to submit charge sheets while the under-trial prisoners are lying in hajats for years together. Even when they are enlarged on bail, they are made to appear in the Court every 14 days or every fortnight. And when we approach the court the court says that they have not got the papers from the police and therefore it appears that the courts are helpless. It appears that gearing up is quite necessary in so far as the courts are concerned and also the police should see that undue hardship should not be caused to the accused persons or to the litigants. But in so far as complete separation as moved by the hon. mover is concerned, it is not possible to expect that Government can do things overnight. We have to wait, we have to be patient, we have also got to make up our mind as to whether these village courts and other courts which cannot follow the rules of procedure and law should be abolished. In that case, it will amount to amending the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution. So Mr. Speaker, Sir, in view of the efforts and steps that our Government are taking now for State Courts, I think the motion is not in order at the present moment....
Mr. Speaker :- It is quite in order but perhaps the suggestions are not in order.
Shri Jor Manik Syiem :- Yes, Sir, we cannot expect that the whole thing can be changed overnight. It is of course the desire of everyone that we should have proper justice through the separation of powers. If this must be done, I don't know whether it will be on State court level or also down below. This is the point which we have to consider if complete separation must be effected right from the bottom and then the Sixth Schedule will have to be amended. For the time being our Government are taking steps to separate the functions of these three authorities and I would say that it is not possible to express that we can change it over-night. So I oppose the cut motion moved by the hon. member from the Mendipathar. We cannot change the whole thing unless we can start right from the bottom. We should see how far the Government can bring this into effect. Though of course the courts should be made more regular to dispose of cases speedily and also the police should not take to much time to investigate and send up cases.
Mr. Speaker :- This refers only to criminal offences and police forces are concerned only with those cases. Can you give some suggestions as to how to improve the organisation in order to speed up even in civil cases.
Shri Jor Manik Syiem :- Sir, in civil cases it is up to the court to see if they can do it in time if the cases come up regularly in time. There are some observations about the delay in disposal of cases. But I do not understand when the hon. Member from Mawprem said that there are different sets of laws for different sections of the people. But in civil case there are customary laws and other laws. For example the Muslim people are governed by the Muslim laws..
Shri Maham Singh :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I was not talking of personal laws
Mr. Speaker :- In fact, Mr. Maham Singh has pleaded only for the uniformity of procedure and rules of law and on the basic concept of customary laws.
Shri Jor Manik Syiem :- Yes, Sir, but even in the rules, I do not think that there is any different. In criminal cases I think same rules will apply. If they are applicable to the rest of the country they are applicable here also. But in tribal or rural areas the rules of Cr. P.C. have not been applied and not even the C.P.C. Both these laws have been followed differently without any procedure. But so far as criminal cases are concerned I do not think there is any difference between any section of people although there may be difference in their areas. So Mr. Speaker, Sir, it will not be correct to say that different sets of rules are applicable to different sets of people. So with regard to complete separation, as I said if Government are taking steps to separate different functions, it is to be expected that the time will come when we shall get a complete separation as we have in the High Court. The process of separation is being followed in the District Council Courts and in the State Court. With these few observations, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I oppose the cut motion moved by the hon. Member from Mendipathar.
Shri Humphrey Hadem :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I have a little to say in opposing the cut motion. First of all, Sir, our State is a new State and it is also a poor State, so by separating judiciary from the executive, it means, incurring huge amount of expenditure on the matter. So, at this stage, I do not think that it is proper time to come up with such a proposal in the matter. Secondly Sir, though I am a lay a man, when the hon. Member said that "law does not provide as to whom to arrest, and by whom arrests will be made" and this way and that way- it is very stage that such ignorance world occur to a lawyer when, even we, laymen, know fully well that the Criminal Procedure Code provide how to arrest or whom to arrest. Everything is laid down therein and I do not understand how the hon. Member, being a lawyer, could not find it. And with these few words, I strongly oppose the cut-motion.
Mr. Speaker :- Will the Minister-in-charge of Law reply ?
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Law) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, we had occasion to discuss this particular matter of the Judiciary in this State and in the Districts during the Budget discussion in which the hon. Member from Mendipathar had spoken very strongly, much more strongly than what he did today.
Mr. Speaker :- And his contention is only after Meghalaya's coming into being.
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Law) :- As rightly said the by the hon. Member that we are in this State, in a democracy and that generally speaking, we have three wings in the administration, the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary. But I would like to put a little thought in the House that there is really nothing absolute even in this theory of the three wings in a democracy. In fact we have only one wing of democracy. The people of the State are one sovereign body and in practice in modern democracy we have a representative democracy, this august House. Mr. Speaker, Sir, is the Sovereign. The two other wings are merely branches of this sovereign body, the legislature. This legislature appointed the executive the Government to execute the will of the legislature the laws made by the legislature. This executive is not an independent or separate wing, but is only an agent to execute the will of the legislature, which is again the will of the people as a whole.
Then again we come to another part which is judiciary which is not so very independent as has been made to feel. It is only little part of this body, that is to interpret the will of this august body, the legislature. The legislature is not expected to sit everyday and interpret this will everywhere in every branches of the administration in the State. Therefore there is the judiciary to see that there is no cause of doubt about the will and intention of the legislature. I simply put this only because I think that whenever we discuss anything here we must have a sense of proportion as to the importance, priority and weight to be given to any matter, because we have so many matters that are of great importance and we should not give equal importance to all matters, first thing should come first and the most important should come first. Therefore, we are here as a body most concerned with the policy that we should adopt in our administration and development of the State and the laws that we make here reflect the right policy and the right action to be done in connection with the administration and development of the State. Why I was just trying to say this is this question of Judiciary, Executive and the Parliament. We did have controversial judgments passed by the Supreme Court and High Courts recently and sometimes we forget this very basic fact of Sovereignty of Parliament and that judiciary should understand its own position to interpret the will of the people, the will as expressed by the laws made by the Parliament.
Now, coming to this question of the separation of judiciary, there is a certain remark that we have to make clear. One is the remark that the hon. Member from Mendipathar has said that we have no laws for the police to arrest in the State in view of the fact that the Criminal Procedure Code was not applicable to most of the areas in the State. However, this question of law is very difficult to say categorically and definitely, but I would refer the hon. member to the rules for administration of justice and police in the autonomous districts of Assam. That was in 1952. There it was laid down in the procedure, the power to arrest. As perhaps the hon. Member may not be having a copy of this, I will quote the rules....
Mr. Speaker :- I think the hon. Member is a practicing lawyer ; so he must have a copy.
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Law) :- Under the rules the arrests were made and the procedures followed. Anyway there was of course a statement by the hon. Member from Mawprem about the over-all and total absolute power of the Deputy Commissioner in the old days. But then we have to remember also one thing. That England was called the land of laws just like India was called the land of religion and music and so on. Some thought that they have too much power. But they did get the laws from Parliament and Delhi and so on. Therefore, the Deputy Commissioner was empowered by these rules so far as administration of law and justice is concerned and they enjoyed that power. Even the Syiems and headmen in those days were to act as courts as well as police officers. Now we come to the suggestion that there is now the need for change because from that time onwards uptil now there has been a lot of changes in Khasi Hills. For quite a number of years may be 50 years ago we have had lawyers practicing in Shillong. In Garo Hills, I think about 10 or 15 year ago, if I am not mistaken. Lawyers are there to help the people in the interpretation of the laws and also help the courts in bringing about the full facts of any happening. So the two sides always engaged two lawyers and the Government sometimes had to appoint lawyers to see that the full facts are brought to the notice of the court of law for the right decision in any particular case. Therefore, Government welcome the appearance of qualified lawyers in the 3 district headquarters. As stated yesterday, we are thinking of bringing the Cr.P.C. and C.P.C. to be applicable in all courts wherever qualified lawyers appear. The producers however may be a bit difficult in view of the Sixth Schedule, in view of the District Council courts and so on. But as the hon. member from Mylliem, Shri Jormanik Syiem, had stated that in the villages where the Presiding Officers are illiterate, it would be meaningless to apply the Cr.P.C. and C.P.C. For example, the rule that the Presiding Officer would himself take up the deposition. As the hon. member has said that when they are illiterate how can they take up the deposition. The headmen, the Nokmas, the lascars, etc. are not properly qualified and even if we try to bring all the rules, they will not be able to understand unless the lawyers are there to help them and unless we gradually simplify the procedures. I would, therefore, have a compromise approach with the hon. Members Mr. Koch and Mr. Maham Singh and let us consider that the application of these procedures is important wherever qualified courts and qualified lawyers are there to guide them and conduct the cases both civil and criminal in the courts. Of course it is quite an irrelevant remark about the police behaviour we have here. However, the sweeping remarks on the force are uncalled for. I would request the hon. members, as I have stated yesterday, that we should not be led by any single incident here and there. Let us have an objective vision of the whole case. We have also an experience that in matters of serious crimes, murder, theft and dacoity, there is the same human moral conviction with use, as with the common man in the street and also with the police. I can say there are no serious offences which are being suppressed for any reason. The moral conviction is very strong not only in this country but in other countries also so far as these very very serious anti-social elements such as crimes and murders etc. are concerned. The moral conviction is the same. However, I would like very much that our police force be improved and specially about the method of investigation. As the hon. Member from Mylliem, Mr. Jormanik Syiem, has said "justice delayed is justice denied". It is true to expedite the investigation of cases, change of procedures and methods and also to improve the quality of the Presiding Officers. We are very very seriously considering these things. Perhaps the State being small, we can have more contact at all levels for the improvement in the Police Force in so far as the dealing with the cases is concerned. Another remark about the question of discrimination is that the District Council Courts are not competent to try non-tribals. Regarding that, I may draw the attention of the hon. members to Sub-Paragraph 1 of Paragraph 5 of the Sixth Schedule where on the readiness of the District Council and the State Government, the President may issue notification in which the Courts may be competent to try all cases and there will be no more discrimination District Council Courts can try all citizens introspective of any community. That has been amended in 1971 together with the State- Re-organisation Act. Now with this except for Shillong, all Courts, are District Council Courts. They will have jurisdiction over all cases even against the Government. Therefore, the question that the Government should have an independent judiciary will not arise unless, therefore, we implement another amendment in the Sixth Schedule. That means that at the District level we will have only one uniform District Court and the District Council will have a courts only in the rural areas. This policy has been accepted by the three District Councils. The implementation part remains. There were some difficulties about the questions of absorption of officers and staff. I request the District Councils to co-operate to expedite the arrangements so that we will have a uniform administration of justice in all the three head-quarters for all the serious cases. But then, we have the Rural Courts of the Syiems, the Nokmas, the Village Courts and the Headmen at the rural level. So far as Garo Hills and Jaintia Hills are concerned, we are ready now to implement this amendment, the amendment of the Sixth Schedule of having only one District Court in the District Headquarters.
Then , so far as the jurisdiction of the Village Courts in civil matters is concerned, hon. Members have raised the point that they have unlimited jurisdiction. Well, it is a matter really not of theory but it should be guided by pragmatism. Perhaps the hon. member from Mawprem as well as the hon. member from Mylliem and myself have had experience in this regard because we had practised in the rural courts in Khasi Hills in the Syiem Courts and the Raj Courts. There are advantages and disadvantages in everything. When we appeared there, cases worth lakhs of rupees were tried, specially in connection with the pan groves and betel groves in the border areas. We did go to Pamshutia and Umkrem. In general, I have not experienced miscarriage of justice. There is one aspect. There in the Village Court we have what we call a jury. A man may be qualified but there is also question of character, intelligence and bias to be considered because they play a lot in the administration of justice. In the villages, when the Shillong layers appear (Interruption).
Shri Maham Singh :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, may I inform the Hon'ble Minister that the cases in which he appeared last was about 6 or 7 years back and that was in Umsyiem and the case was adjourned sine-die, and was never fixed again (laughter)
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Law ) :- Any way, Sir, in the Syiems Court we have a sort of jury system. There are the Myntries, the Basans, the Headmen and the Syiems. They altogether sat over the cases. so miscarriage of justice is very remote. This may be better than a single Judge or single Magistrate presiding over the cases. But we should consider the pros and cons of the matter. Therefore, we will have to exercise not only the Government but also the District Council, because they are more concerned in it. the District Council had to apply this very carefully, in so far as modification and changes to be brought in a District Council Court dealing with the rural people in the Hill District Council are concerned. Sir, so far as the point about the separation of the judiciary from the executive is concerned this is in the Directive Principles of the Constitution for all the States and I had occasion in 1972 as reminded by the hon. Member from Mendipathar that we are in favour of implementing these Directive Principles as far as practicable. In the present set up of things there are various Courts such as the courts of the District Council including the Courts of the Sirdars in Khasi Hills and the Courts of the Dolois in the Jaintia Hills. So, it will be difficult to implement complete separation of the judiciary from the executive. But so far as the Government Courts are concerned, as the hon. member from Mylliem has stated, the hon. Members would have realised that in a short span of time, we have really done a great deal towards that end. First we have created the District and Sessions Court in Shillong which is completely judicial and not connected with the Executive. And then, we have also recently appointed by the High Courts. We have given them the powers on motor accidents and on labour disputes. We have also now, as a matter of policy, decided to have 3 Assistant District Judges and Sessions Judges to be appointed in the 3 District Headquarters in Khasi Hills, Garo Hills and Jaintia Hills, which will be completely independent of the Government or the Executive who will examined the question of upgrading wherever there is sufficient workload in the courts of Munisiff and Assistant Sessions Judge. At the State Level we are not about to inaugurate the Division Bench of the High Court. So, Sir, I really want to say that so far as this subject is concerned, I cannot understand why there should be criticism, instead I expect congratulation from all sides on this matter, that in a Short span of time from 1972-74 we have taken so many steps and have been implementing a number of them. Well, there was a discussion that our Minister being a justice. Therefore with these observations and clarifications and specially the fact that the judiciary is bound up with the District Councils the State Government have nothing to do with this expect Shillong. Therefore, as leaders in the House and also as leaders functioning in the District Councils Members will take note of this discussion and then help the District Councils to come to a right decision, right action so far as the Courts are concerned and as the policy being already agreed for the abolition of the District Council Courts at the headquarters. I would expect the help from the Members to have the District Councils expediting the creation of the Courts for the interest of administration of justice in the State of Meghalaya. With these observations and clarification, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I hope the hon. member will be kind enough to withdraw the Cut Motion. Of course, not that the Cut Motion had served no purpose but the Motion has served a very good purpose on this subject in this State.
Shri S.N. Koch :- Since the Minister of Law has said the Government have already examined the question to some extent and is now in the process of expediting separation of the judiciary from the executive I withdraw my Cut Motion.
Mr. Speaker :- Has the hon. Member leave of the House to withdraw his Cut Motion. (voices - yes, yes)
The cut motion is with leave of the House withdrawn. Now, I put the question before the House. The question is that an amount of Rs. 6,43,300 be granted to the Minister-in-charge of defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending the 31st March, 1975 for the Administration of the head "214- Administration of Justice". The motion is carried. The demand is passed.
May I ask the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs to move Grant No. 5.
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister for Parliamentary Affairs) :- On the recommendation of the Governor, i beg, Sir, to move that an amount of Rs. 4,69,500 be granted to the Minister-in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1975 for the administration of the head "215 - Elections".
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved since I have received no Cut Motion , I put the question before the house. The question is that an amount of Rs. 4,69,500 be granted to the Minister-in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1975 for the administration of "215 - Elections". be passed. The motion is carried. the demand is passed.
Mr. Speaker :- May I ask the Minister-in-charge of Revenue to move Grant No. 6.
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister for Parliamentary Affairs) :- On the recommendation of the Governor, I beg, Sir, to move that an amount of Rs. 9,27,500 be granted to the Minister-in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1975 for the administration of the head "229 - Land revenue".
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. I have received one Cut Motion which stands in the name of Shri S.D. Khongwir. Before I call Mr. Khongwir to move, I want to inform the House that in all Cut Motions which have been admitted and which appeared in the order paper of to-day the words "whole budget" are there, which should be substituted by the word "grant". So Mr. Khongwir to move the Cut Motion.
Shri S.D. Khongwir :- I beg to move that the total provision of Rs. 9,27,500 under Grant No. 6 Major Head "229 - Land Revenue" at page 31 of the budget be reduced Re.1 i.e. the amount of whole grant of Rs. 9,27,500 , do stand reduced to Re.1.
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. Now you can initiate the discussion.
Shri S.D. Khongwir :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, this is not the first time we have been trying to bring a discussion on this not so very important matter but in so far as the public whose lands have been affected are concerned at least, Mr. Speaker, Sir, in the last Session also I remember that we have already brought one resolution with regard to this particular matter and every time, while speaking on the subject, we have been trying to help the Government in placing the facts before the Government so that the Government will know and take timely remedial measures in so far as the case of delay in payment of compensation is concerned. Mr. Speaker, Sir, in so far as this District, i.e, Khasi Hills, is concerned. according to my knowledge, there is a huge back-log of remaining un-disposed land compensation cases, especially those lands involving the question of construction of roads. There are instances where Government have not been able to settle the payment of compensation for the last five six years or even in one case for about 18 to 20 years. I do not understand, Mr. Speaker, Sir, how can this happen but it is affect. We as the responsible representatives of the people have to face it because whenever such cases arise, people used to come to us requesting us to kindly meet the collector or the Minister himself to talk over this problem and to ask the Government why it was so. That is the result of this inordinate delay in the disposal of payment of compensation in the land acquisition. It is a fact, Mr. Speaker, Sir, that land acquisition proceeding takes a lengthy process. If we happen to look (Shri Winstone Syiemiong took the Chair) at the provision of the relevant Act on land acquisition, it is fact that every process has to be followed the issue of notices, the calling of objections and other things. But Mr. Chairman, Sir, if the Government or the department concerned take a realistic view of this matter and examine the problem carefully, they will find that in most of the land acquisition cases there is an inordinate delay. For example, Mr. Chairman, Sir, there is a case of inordinate delay in the Sohiong-Pariong road. This road, to my knowledge, has been there for the last five or six years but the compensation has not been paid. So is the case with regard to Sohiong-Weilyngkut-Mawshynrut-Nongstoin Road and also the Dwarksuid-Tyrso road. In al these cases, according to my knowledge, compensation statements have been prepared by P.W.D. and all these statements have been forwarded to the Collector or Land Acquisition Officer to make necessary valuation. But all these statements have been lying there unattended, I mean unattended because they have not been finalised. And what is wrote, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would refer to one case where I was requested by some persons to meet the officer concerned with regard to one road namely the G.S. Road to Khliehriat in order to find out the present position regarding payment of compensation. I went to the officer about a month this year and, was told that the matter is in the process and payment of compensation will be paid very soon. Then again I went in the 1st week of March this year, and I was told by the same officer that the amount of compensation will be paid before the 31st March, 1974. Then as a person who had been requested by these persons concerned, I met them and conveyed the message to them that their money will be paid before the 31st March, 1974. But to my utter surprise, the money has not been paid up to this date. When I went again to meet the officer concerned, I was told that the matter is still under the process and a notice under Section 6 has already been issued and it will take time for this matter to be completed. So Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would like to pinpoint this particular instance, because it is our duty as representatives of the people to help them and therefore, we would request all the Ministers and Government officials to at least give us the correct information in so far as any particular case is concerned. When we do not get the the correct information, Mr. Chairman, Sir, it is very embarrassing on our part to go and give the people the inaccurate information which has been handed down to us by the Department concerned. So in this particular case, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would like to impress once again for the third or fourth time on the Government and the hon'ble Minister of Revenue to kindly look into these matter seriously because as I have said earlier, there is a huge backlog of undecided cases of land compensation matters. And if necessary, as we have already suggested, in the previous sessions, to appoint more S.D.Cs for quick disposal of these cases. Thank you.
Shri Maham Singh :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would like to support what has been stated by the hon. Member, the mover of this motion that there has been delay, very long delay in the disposal of these land acquisition cases. In some of the cases the delay has been to such an extent that it is causing a great deal of hardship to the people. Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would like to bring to the notice of the Government one particular case. Of course there are many cases but as an example I will cite only one case where land which has been occupied by the Meghalaya Police Battalion near Mawlai gate since 1972
(Voices : Where is the place? Is it at Mawiong? )
Yes, it is near Mawiong. The Police has taken possession of the land and it is a vast plot of land about 20 to 23 acres but the question of payment is still not yet settled. By occupying the land, Government has deprived the land owners of utilising it. Many persons may be inclined to think that these land owners are very rich. But on this I would like to bring to the notice of the House that although it may appear that the owner is rich by owning 20 to 23 acres of land it is not so. The owners of the land appear in the name of one person, but actually it belongs to a number of families. When compensation will be paid it may be 20 to 23 lakhs, it will be paid in the name of one person the 'Khadduh' of the family but this amount will be divided and shared among all the different families who jointly own the property. This is the case of almost all lands belonging to Khasis for according to custom almost all lands are owned either by numbers of the whole clan or by a number of families. Now, these are poor people. They are deprived of using their land for cultivation and at the same time their land compensation has not been paid up till now. this has caused undue hardship to the people. Over and above that I would like to bring to the notice of the Government that any delay in the payment of compensation will bring in more financial burden on the Government as the Government will have to pay interest on compensation awarded from the time when the Government takes over possession of the land. The amount may be 1½ lakhs of rupees per year or 2 or 3 lakhs in the present case depending on the compensation awarded.
Now, there are also other land acquisition cases which have been referred to the Civil Courts about 4 or 5 years ago but up till now the records have not been sent to the Civil Courts and the cases are still lying with the Revenue Department. If by chance the Civil Court decides for payment of higher compensation more than the award given by the Collector then on all each cases also the Government will have to pay a very heavy interest for the delay in the, payment of compensation. So, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would submit that Government should be more prompt in disposing of land acquisition cases, because as I have said before, delay in disposing of these cases really causes hardship to the people whose land had been taken over by the Government. Now, there are also cases of compensation for lands taken by the State Electricity Board in the place known as Baruah. Some of the affected persons have lost their paddy fields but compensation has not been paid although possession of their paddy fields but compensation has not been paid although possession of their land had already been taken, I think, about 15 years ago there were many cases, where compensation had been paid only on the ground that the amount had been misappropriated by some officers in the Government. There is a case of lakhs of rupees misappropriated by a clerk of the Deputy Commissioner's office and the reason given to the land-owners is that the money had been misappropriated. I consider that, in all these cases, it is the duty of the Government to pay the compensation. Misappropriation cannot be ground for non-payment of compensation to the land-owners. With these few observations. Sir, I support the cut motion moved by the hon. Member from Mawlai.
Shri Raisen Mawsor :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, regarding the cut motion as moved by the hon. member I would like to speak on just one very important point. In my constituency, there is one road from Mawshynrut to Nongshram which was constructed in 1967. Before construction of the said road the E.A.C. at Nongstoin had called a meeting at Nongdaju and Umsohpieng (Hatidanga) and made an agreement in that agreement there was a condition, if I remember correctly, to the effect that before the construction of the road, compensation would be paid. After the coming into being of the Meghalaya Government construction of the same road was continued in 1971. But , Sir, land-owners have not been paid land compensation , and they have so many times gone to the Civil S.D.O. in Nongstoin, and also offices here in times gone to the Civil S.D.O. in Nongstoin, and also offices here in Shillong, in connection with the same matter. They have requested the Government to make payment immediately, but up till now nothing has been done. So, Sir, I would request the Government to take up this matter immediately so that payment of compensation can be made to these people with these few words, Sir, I support the Cut motion.
Shri S.N. Koch :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, I rise to support the cut motion. Thee are also discrepancies in the non-payment of the money in Garo Hills. During the time of the Assam Government the road from Garobadha to Phulbari was widened and the lands of the cultivators were taken over by the Government but no compensation was paid till today. Only recently, I had been to Bhaitbari and the people were complaining that they have not received the compensation which has been pending from 1964 and 1967. Another new road from Garobadha to Rajabala was constructed. This road passes through my land and I enquired from the P.W.D. office and I was told that no legal notification was issued. I actually had contemplated legal action but since roads are for the benefit of the people I did not take legal action although the compensation has not been paid to me even today. The Government is silent on this. So, Sir, it appears that the Government simply knows how to take the lands of the people despite the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution. From this action of the Government it transpires that the Government is not ready to honour even the provision of the Constitution. Sir, this land compensation matter is dealt with by the Revenue Department. Unfortunately, the Revenue Minister is absent at this moment....
(Voices - Revenue Minister is present)
During the last Budget Session the Urban Areas Rent Control Act was passed but, according to the construction of the Act, it will apply only in areas where there are municipalities. The second largest town of the State is Tura where there is no municipality. So the Act does not apply and I think the Deputy Commissioner has moved the Government and I personally took the initiative because during the time of the discussion on the motion of Grant No. 4, I said that the Transfer of Property Act does not apply in our State and in Garo Hills also, excepting the Shillong Town. So, in the absence of any law in Garo Hills there is nothing which governs, e.g., there is nothing to govern the relationship between the landlord and the owner, and their respective rights and liabilities. There is only a mutual understanding but in absence of any law mere mutual understanding cannot help in sorting out differences if arise. This is aggravated in view of the need for buildings for Government officers, as their numbers are increasing day by day after the State came into being, who are posted at Tura to man our nation building offices. The poor Government officers who are posted at Tura, there being no Government quarters are to hire the Private houses at a most unreasonable exorbitant high rate of house rent. The Deputy Commissioner has also requisitioned some private houses for office purpose and fixed the rents arbitrarily. Since there is no law, the Meghalaya Urban Area Rent Control Act, 1972, being not applicable there. A small house consisting two to three rooms also charges form Rs. 100 to Rs. 200 which a tenant is bound to pay because he is to live under a roof. Sir, the poor Government officers go there to serve the people as per Government order and not at their sweet will but if their major earnings is to be parted only in paying rent we cannot expect better services from them. So, Sir, I would request the hon. Minister and the hon. Members of this august House that the Act be made applicable at Tura also thereby giving relief to both the tenants and the land -lords and also allow the people to enjoy their respective rights guaranteed by laws. With these few words and observations, Sir, I resume my seat.
Shri D.D. Lapang :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, while opposing the cut motion moved by Shri S. D. Khongwir, I would like to express the following points. It is a fact that there are certain cases of delay in payment of compensation for land to the extent of 18 to 20 years as Mr. Khongwir stated correctly. And there are many cases more which he might not know which I personally brought before this august House in the past and also we have requested the Government to look into the matter. Mr. Chairman, Sir, the hon. Member has referred to one place called Barua in Bhoi area where land compensation has not been paid. I have also had a personal experience in taking these people to the appropriate authority complaining for the delay made by the Government. Mr. Chairman, Sir, I was informed that the delay in making payment was due to the fact that there were many claimants and counter-claimants for the same plot of land. Obviously, payment could not be made due to lack of proper records of rights over the land and it was also a fact that there were also cases of misappropriation of money which is very much regretted because, that made the delay. But this is a recorded case in the court of law. There were cases where some claimants have taken the compensation in the name of original or actual man. But the actual man did not get the compensation which was due to him. But Mr. Chairman, Sir, it is not to be denied that these cases were pending since 15 to 20 years ago since the time of the Assam Government, and as such, Meghalaya Government cannot be squarely blamed for those lapses. The Government of Meghalaya came into existence only recently, a few years ago,, and I would like to bring to the notice of the House that the Government is not sitting tight, they have taken up the matter and are trying to push up the matter and will complete it.
Now, regarding Umsning-Jagi Road, payment of compensation had been pending for the last 15 to 20 years. But I am glad to say that the S.D.C. concerned went there many times to dispose of the matter. This shows that the machinery of this Department is working. Now regarding land compensation for Kyrdemkulai area I would like to inform the House that the case was pending since 1955 and the people were anxiously waiting for payment and now I am glad that 50 per cent of the cases have been disposed of some months ago and the remaining cases have been disposed of yesterday, and today a group of people will come to Deputy Commissioner's office to receive money for the land compensation. Now for instance, the areas that have been taken over by the Government for Industrial Estate at Narbong-Rangsekona 60 to 70 families have already been paid. So, Mr. Chairman, Sir, we have seen the marks of hope that our - Government is trying to speed up the matter. We know there is shortage of officers. I have had the occasion to suggest to the Government to open a separate Revenue Wing that will be attached to the P.W.D. and one Sub-Deputy collector to be placed for attending to revenue matters in order to expedite disposal of land compensation cases and to avoid red-tapism. With these few words, I would like to oppose the cut motion tabled by Shri S.D. Khongwir.
Mr. Chairman :- Any other Member ?
Prof. A. Warjri :- Mr. Chairman , Sir...
Mr. Chairman :- Prof. Warjri, do you have any new points to highlight ?
Prof. A. Warjri :- Not only that I have got new points, but apart from expressing my views there are very important points. As the hon. mover of the cut motion has stated, this matter is not so very important as far as the whole State is concerned. It is important to only those people who have got the claim over those lands where the constructions are to take place. I quite admit that a number of people, especially in the Bhoi area fighting for land compensation, are from the town. I remember incidentally one story that was taught in Class X. "How much land does a man need". And here also there was a little whispering for some years, that lands would be taken by the Government somewhere in the Bhoi area and so many Pahoms would go down to Bhoi area and try to demarcate lands; so instead of the people of that area getting the compensation or instead of the people of the Raj or Raj Durbar, other people are getting the compensations. It was an admitted fact, as some of the Members have spoken previously, that the land acquisition proceedings have been kept pending since 18 to 20 years back. but I would like to point out in this respect, Mr. Chairman, Sir, that we should not blame our Government for this. As we know, Sir, recently the State Government have appointed a Khasi Sub Deputy Collector who has done a great job and good service in trying to dispose of many of these cases and also many other cases in which there are counter claims. Regarding the case which the hon. Member from Mawprem had stated about Barua area, this is under the process of the court and I believe I am correct to say that this case has involved all the persons who have misappropriated some money. As such, this case is still under the court proceedings. Therefore, we have to wait till the court decides. Moreover, I do not know why there should be a Cut Motion on this when the Government has already informed this very house that more sub Deputy Collectors would be appointed. But the Sub-Deputy Collectors cannot be manufactured by a machine they have to be trained and sent for training, and so, it will take time for the Government to expedite those cases. With these few words Sir, I oppose the Cut Motion.
Shri H.E. Pohshna :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, I do not have much to say at this juncture but while participating in the discussion, on this Cut Motion. I would like to say that the Government while dealing with this land compensation matter is subject to so many objections. For example, for compensations in the town, for big projects where there should be big amount of compensation, the officers were very very prompt. But for road construction especially in the interior, there are cases pending for about 2,3 or sometimes, 5,6,7, years though of course Government will say that our State has come into existence very recently and hence there is delay but actually no interest is taken for the poor villagers. The roads have already been constructed for years and the poor villagers, before any investigation or enquiry is made to their claims, have as usual cultivated their lands and by the time the enquiry officer would come, there is no more trace of cultivation. Therefore, Sir, I would like to particularly draw the attention of the Government to pay special attention to our people because it is a fact that for a big project where big compensation is expected prompt action is taken, whereas in the case of the poor villagers who are poor cultivators through whose cultivation the road passes the Government will never take into consideration promptly and action is lacking. With these few words, I support the Cut Motion. Thank you, Sir.
Mr. Chairman :- As there is no other hon. Member to participate, I call upon the Revenue Minister to reply ?
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Revenue) :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, I believe that this cut Motion was brought in the House not really with a purpose to disapprove the policy of the Government but only to draw the attention of the House to this very very serious problem of delay in payment of compensation. This is not only a matter pertaining to our State but it is a matter with other States as well. We have just had the experience of our composite State with Assam in which pending cases of 15 or 20 years were there and we have now for the last two years and in that spirit I would discuss this. So far as this cut motion is concerned, we all realise the need to expedite payment of compensation for the land acquired for public purposes. We are not yet in the totalitarian State though of course there are amendments to the Constitution recently giving the Government more powers to use in matter of compensation. However this Government and this State has not decided to change the policy of payment of due compensation to the owners of the land taken by the Government for public purposes, for the purpose of construction of roads, etc. However, hon. Members who were acquainted with the Land Acquisition Act know that in most of the countries and State in India the procedures of land compensation are really very very complicated and lengthy. First of all, any department say, PWD would say we would like to construct a road from here to Nongstoin, they will make a survey alignment. Then they will submit to the Collector such rough alignment and ask him for rough estimate and before they come to a final decision, the collector would have to give a rough estimate of the case and then the maps. Thereafter follows the dealing with the occupant and owner of the land and again, issue of notification for a period of 30 days to give chance to the people to make objection or to give any say on it. It we really go through the case of Land Acquisition Act section by section we will find that it involves a very lengthy procedure. Well, it is the case of the rule of law in our State to see that injustice will not occur. Therefore, in view of these natural difficulties, there must be some delay. This again, if we compare the present State and the State of affairs in the past 5 or 10 years, we will see a great different. but as already stated steps will be taken in order to ensure better service in the payment of compensation to the people of the State for the land acquired either for construction of roads or some other public purposes like dispensaries and hospitals or for military acquisition, Air-Force, acquisition, etc. We have now heavy pressure of works so far as this subject is concerned, for the last few years but the staff and officers are still the same. We are conscious of the need to expedite and remove the back-log of compensation due to the people. Government have also decided to go for emergency recruitment of revenue officers. Hon. Members might have just noticed in the newspaper the advertisement that ended perhaps on 31st of last month; if I am not mistaken, for recruitment of these revenue officers. Of course as hon. members have said just now, these revenue officers will have also to be trained after recruitment. Therefore, I would request the hon. Members to have a little patience and to see whether the Government is really fully conscious as the hon. members are aware about the need to expedite payment of compensation in all categories of land owned by the people. We even have gone to the extent of going in for emergency recruitment of the revenue officers, as I said. As already pointed out by Prof. Warjri and Mr. Hadem , the signs of improvement are noticeable everywhere because we have also taken steps to take away certain revenue offices from the Block . We have appointed local officers who know the local language, the conditions of the lands and they are attempting to expedite payment of compensation to the claimants. Instances also are there which are involved with great success. The Deputy Commissioner will also have to be satisfied with the ownership of lands. But there are various disputes pending about the ownership because of lack of records of right in this district. I was personally involved previously when I was an M.L.A. in the matter of compensation of land at Smit and Jongksha areas. We visited those areas twice and it was very very difficult to settle those lands. Some of them fall within one or two kilometers and there are different and different kilometers in those lands which were very very difficult really to determine as to who is the real claimant. During that time when the Government of Assam was there, there was an understanding with the District Council and the District Council should aid the Government in determining who is the real claimant of compensation. But then the District Council was not in a position to decide unless it referred to the Court. So these are matters that are standing in the way of expeditious disposal of land compensation. As a matter of fact, hon. Members may be aware that the Government has got a keen interest to expedite these matters. Otherwise Government will have to pay interest also to those claimants of compensation. Therefore, Government will have to pay not only compensation, but also interest to the owners for delay and they will have to pay interest only for that period for which they have not been able to pay the compensation in time. Therefore, we are of one mind in so far as this question is concerned that there is a need to expedite payment of compensation. We have taken steps to strengthen the revenue staff to deal with this question with a view to serve the purpose which the hon. Mover has raise this Cut Motion on this particular Grant.
One remark made by the hon. Member, Mr H.E. Pohshna. whether he had enquired into the facts that in the big projects or town cases officers expedite the process on payment of compensation. I just want to cite instance on the road-widening from Barabazar to Jaiaw. This has taken place since the time of the Government of Assam for quite a number of years. But up till now no payment of compensation has yet been made as social and political figures are involved with these roads who are approaching me for making payment and we have not been able to pay. So it is not right to say that important people or important land or big projects only are being attended to by Government promptly.
Then another matter at Mawiong where land has been acquired for the police quarters. This land was requisitioned by the Government of Assam since 1965 for making it as a station of the Police Battalion. Well, it came over to us on the 21st January, 1972 and there was a question some time whether this plot will be made a permanent place for the Police Battalion or not or whether we should find out any other place or not.
There are many views on this question. Finally it was decided that that place is quite fit for making permanent station of the Police Battalion and it has to be acquired. Actually they did propose to acquire on the fag end of the financial year i.e. on the 28th March and it only came to us for sanctioning. But there may be objection from the members of the P.A.C. that if sanction is made on the 28th March and within two or three days transition will be completed it will be very much on the part of the P.A.C. and in this matter the A,C. will also send a note to the P.A.C. for raising this objection. Therefore, we have to refuse sanction and we can do it from April onwards.
In view of the steps taken, the attitude shown and the assurances we have given now. I would request the hon. mover to withdraw his Cut Motion.
Mr. Chairman :- Now, Mr. Khongwir, please.
Shri S.D. Khongwir :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, while listening to the debate and the speech made by the hon. Member from Nongpoh, when he made one suggestion, I would like to get some clarification from the Minister-in-0charge of Revenue with regard to the quick disposal of these case of land acquisition whether the civil officers can be attached to the Public Works Department.
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Revenue) :- They are working for the Public Works Department to make measurements, to prepare maps, etc. and the Collector has to finalise the these B.D.Os who are also S.D.Cs may be entrusted with this type of works. Of course now there is only a Class I State Civil Servicing and we shall call them no more as S.D.Cs and no more Class II Service and they will be recruited by Government and within a few months after training they will be in a position to do this work.
Shri S.D. Khongwir :- So in view of the assurance given by the Hon'ble Revenue Minister, I withdraw this Cut Motion.
Mr. Chairman :- Has the hon. Member leave of the House to withdraw his Cut Motion ? (Voices - yes, yes)
The cut motion is with leave of the House withdrawn.
Now, I put the main question before the House . The question that an amount of Rs. 9,27,500 be granted to the Minister-in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending 31st March 1975 for the administration of "229 - Land Revenue". (After a pause).
The motion is carried and the demand is passed. Now we come to Grant No. 7. Now Minister-in-charge of Registration to move Grant No. 7.
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Registration) :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, on the recommendation of the Governor, I beg to move that an amount of Rs. 51,400 be granted to the Minister-in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1975 for the administration of the head "230 - Stamps and Registration".
Mr. Chairman :- Motion moved. Since I have received no cut motion, I will put the question before the House. The question is that an amount of Rs. 51,400 be granted to the Minister-in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1975 for the administration of the head "230 - Stamps and Registration". (After a pause).
The motion is carried and the demand is passed. Now we pass on to Demand No. 8. The Excise Minister to move ?
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Registration) :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, on the recommendation of the Governor, I beg to move that an amount of Rs. 3,40,000 be granted to the Minister-in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1975 for the administration of the head "239 - State - Excise".
(At this stage, the Deputy Speaker, took the Chair)
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- Motion moved. There is a cut motion in the name of Shri D.N. Joshi.
Shri Humphrey Hadem :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, in this particular cut-motion, I want to raise a point of order regarding the word 'budget'. The Speaker, gave ruling that this word is to be substitute by the word 'grant'. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I beg again to draw your attention to Rule 145 (1) (a) and here in the notice the Member wants to raise a general discussion on illicit distillation and random grant of licenses to open bars in the State. Sir, I beg to submit that according to the list of business for the day supplied to us now we are having a second stage of the budget and the first stage that we have already passed was the general discussion. That comes under Rule 143 (1) (2) (3). but5 here in the cut motion it was stated to raise again a general discussion. Rule 145(1) (a) states that - A member giving notice of such a motion shall indicate in precise terms the particulars of the policy to discuss. But Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, here the hon. Member did not particularly and precisely point out as to what kind of discussion he wants to discuss. As such, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I be go to submit that the stage for general discussion is already over and as the member is wishing to move this cut-motion in such a form, I think it is very irregular and not relevant to the rules.
Shri H. Enowell Pohshna :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, as far as I remember, the Speaker, Sir, as far as I remember, the Speaker, had given his ruling that all the cut motions are in order.
Shri E. Bareh (Minister Agriculture) :- Only regarding the word budget. But here another issue is raised that this matter is not for general discussion. General discussion is passed now.
Prof. M.N. Majaw :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, if we look in the proceedings, or if my memory serves me well, the ruling was that all the cut-motions are in order and that the word 'budget shall be substituted by the word 'grant', but he did say that all the cut-motions are not in order. The words in respect of all were used. You may look in the proceedings.
Shri Humphrey Hadem :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, this is subject to interpretation. But actually the specific word used by the Speaker, was that the word 'budget be substituted by the word 'grant'.
Prof. M.N. Majaw :- Subject to verification and not to interpretation, Sir, let us verify what the Speaker, said when he passed his ruling.
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- The main contention for the discussion here is to discuss on illicit distillation and random grant of licenses to open bars in the State (Voices - yes, yes). So I will allow.
Shri D.N. Joshi :- Thank you, Sir, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that the total provision of Rs. 3,40,000, under Grant No. 8 Major head "239 - State Excise" at page 40 of the budget be reduced to Re 1.00 i.e., the amount of the whole Grant of Rs. 3,40,000, do stand reduced to Re.1.00.
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- Cut-motion moved. Now you can raise a general discussion. Before you raise discussion, I request you to confine your observation within the points you mentioned here.
Shri D.N. Joshi :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, at the very outset I would like to thank you for allowing me to participate on the very important subject of illicit distillation that is going on rampant unchecked in the State of Meghalaya. This State of ours when it was born, it was carved out of the bigger map of Assam and the, people living in this area though - and the leaders had at the same time given assurance that this State of ours will be a patch of beauty and grace and a shining outpost of India, but now Sir, I find that in the advent of Meghalaya with the creation of this State of ours, the Department concerned, that is the Excise Department has become to independent, so indifferent to its own work entrusted to it that illicit distillation is increasing by leaps and bounds. In the composite State of Assam, in this particular area I found that in Shillong there were only there liquor shops given by the Government , one at Police Bazar, near the Dreamland Cinema, another one at Garikhana and one at Laban. Leaving aside the question of numerous authorised shops in the State, here in Shillong, only, there are thousands authorised shops in the State, here in Shillong only, there are thousands of bars, unlicensed bars in the town itself. Bars for selling foreign liquor and there are bars authorised for selling country liquor and besides these bars which have increased manifold with the efforts of the Government there are houses, there are dens where illicit distillation of liquor is going on. In every locality of Shillong and in every village, this illicit distillation is going on. I had an occasion to have a talk with the Supply Department once and the Deputy Commissioner in course of the discussion in the matter of supply said that about 20,000 quintals of rice in our State go for distillation. So checking of illicit distillation is very vital to the society in so far as health both physical and mental is concerned specially in these hard days of inflation and food scarcity. We as representatives of the people have got the moral responsibility to see that the human element in the State proposes and becomes healthy not only physically but morally. But with this random granting of licences in the State for the sale of liquor both country and foreign and with the unchecked illicit distillation going on I should say that it is increasing due to the convince of the people entrusted in the department. We can just imagine the state of affairs that is waiting us in no distant future which can better be imagined than said. In every nook and corner of the town, wine shops are opened and it has done more harm than good to the people. I would like the Government to see and take proper survey of the people visiting the licensed and unlicensed shops which they very much know where they exist and where how nefarious activities are going on. They will be surprised to find that besides adults and grown-ups, teenagers also visit, some of the students reading in high schools and even M.E. schools frequent these shops. So the time is not very far when the majority of the people of the State will have untimely death of morality and decency. Therefore, this is not very much conductive to be repetitive of the people to do good to them, let us be true to our professions and see that this illicit distillation is stopped forthwith. The machinery should be geared up and wherever illicit distillation is going on, the culprits should be brought to book and the authorities should see that no repetition is made in the future of the offences. Now in the matter of giving licences Sir, the Government should do well to see that licences are not given in residential quarters because we have found in residential quarters if there are houses, where people can get these things, the tranquility and peace of these residential quarters are disturbed. I am afraid I shall have to be very harsh about Police administration here that people going intoxicated on the road are hardly brought to book and the peaceful sleep of the people in the residential quarters is disturbed very much by those people who indulge in liquors. Not only because there is scope created by the people but created by the Government itself on account of its inaction and its indifference. So, I would urge upon the Government to be vigilant enough to see that no illicit distillation is allowed and also to see that no new shops are given licences for selling liquor in those areas. Even in the bazar area, there should be reasonable restriction and gradually they must have in mind a policy of how to make this State not in a fortnight-a -dry State because they will indeed make our posterity and our children become healthy both in mind and sprit and physically.
Shri Jormanki Syiem :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I rise to oppose the motion.
Shri S.N. Koch :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I rise to support the cut motion which is very vital and very very important. I remember during our first Budget Session, there was one organisation organised by the women who submitted a memorandum urging upon the Government to declare our State as dry areas. But I do not know whether we should go to the extent of declaring our State as dry area in view of the fact that it is a tribal area and a tribal State and since drinking is one of the social customs. But the question of issuing number of licences for opening bars and allowing illicit distillation to continue is a thing which unless scrutinized properly, I believe, as the hon. mover of the cut motion has said, will land our future generation in great difficulty. So far I know, though I am not master of any religion, and I have never come across any mandate in any religion whether Hinduism, Christianity and Islam, that this drinking of liquor is encouraged or allowed, rather it is prohibited. From that we can come to a logical conclusion that this drinking is not good to the society, not god to health and not good to the State. I do not understand why our Government should encourage drinking by issuing, permits only to fetch a small amount of revenue. Once our Father of the Nation-Mahatma Gandhi said that our objects and aims should not only be novel but also the means. This earning of a few hundreds and few thousands of rupees by pushing our future generation to the door of death and immorality , I believe, is not very acceptable to this House and no sensible people can agree to that. So, it is high time for the Government to see that this issuing of licence of for opening of bars is to be restricted. At Tura, just below the Circuit House. I see a bar had been opened very recently. This is surrounded by the locality. In this locality there are teenaged children and I was reported that the people are coming at dead of night- sometimes at 11 p.m. 12 p.m. and sometimes at 3 a.m. making hulla, demanding drinks causing not only disturbance to the locality but also passing some undesirable remarks and gossiping which are within reach of the localities surrounding the bars. This, I believe, should be looked into by the Government because it is the duty of the Government. At Tura, apart from the bars, illicit distillation is in fact, in almost, every house and on several occasions I reported the matter to the Excise Inspector but of no effect. Subsequently, I have come to know that there is a transaction between the Excise Officers and the illicit distillers. The Excise Inspector generally used to get one hundred to five hundred rupees per month from those illicit distillers. Sometimes, just to show to the people that they are doing some works some innocent men and women are caught with half an inch of liquor inside the bottle. These men and women are brought to the Court and as directed by the Excise Inspector, they plead guilty and the Court at least fined them about Rs. 20 to Rs. 25 and allowed them to go.
In Rajabala, there are some 200 or 300 families of East Pakistani nationals who were rehabilitated and they were assured by the District Council that they would be given land. Unfortunately, though there are plenty of lands yet these lands cannot be utilised being low-lying lands and during summer all the lands go under water. So these lands come to no use and as a result these unfortunate refugees had to resort to illicit distillation. Right from Rajabala to Selsella on Friday or Saturday one will see that at every 10 cubic ft. there are either men or women sitting on the road side with either some bottles of jars. As a result of which the economy of those localities is in a very bad condition. When the villagers go to the Bazar either on way towards the bazar or back from the bazar what-ever they get by selling their small produces they take liquor and they finish whatever earnings they get. This matter had been brought to the notice of the Deputy Commissioner by myself. Unfortunately, within the last two years no police went there, no Excise Inspectors went there, and this thing is continuing. This is not a solitary instance. Such instances are not rare throughout the District. So I request Government to take some practical view and take some action so that these sorts of illegal things disappear from our State and save our people from the clutches of this illegality and illegal distillation and help our future generation in building a prosperous and healthy nation.
With these observations, I resume my seat.
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, may I be allowed to participate in this Cut Motion so that I may not move my own Cut Motion. ?
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- Are you not including your points in this same Motion ?
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh :- Yes, Sir, the subject is more or less the same.
Shri H. Hadem :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, this should not be allowed because it is for the purpose of a particular motion It is open to general discussion and the hon. Member has not raised this point uptil now whether to move or not to move it.
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh :- Coming to this subject of State excise, Sir, it is found that there is an un-restricted flow of liquor in the State. I know for a fact that consumption of liquor in the State is very high and there is no restriction whatsoever to all people of every age-group living in the State. Sir, even though we know for a fact that there is an increased production of liquor, distillation of liquor and consumption but revenue is on the decrease Sir, we find from the Budget estimates of the 3 Districts of the State, that the Revenue Receipts during 1972-73 which was actual in Garo Hills we have to the tune of Rs. 2,92,000. Whereas the estimated receipt for the current year is only Rs. 2,83,000 it is lower. So the difference is almost Rs. 10,000 this is a loss of revenue. In Khasi Hills we find that the actual revenue receipt in 1972-73 was Rs. 13,95,000 where-as the estimated revenue receipt for the current year will be only 12,90,000. There is a difference of over a lakh of rupees, Sir, the means always there is a loss. Only in Jaintia Hills we find that more or less a realistic estimate is presented. Sir, we find that the revenue receipt for current year will be Rs. 1,93,000. Sir, as I said, there must be something here which has caused reduction of the revenue while the consumption of liquor is increasing. There must be something, Sir. The price also, I understand, is higher than what it was a few years back. Sir, there is a cause for this and one of the causes, Sir, I find, is that the system of auctioning or of giving contract to those liquor shops is wrong. Sir, the policy of the Government in settling these liquor shops to the lessees at present is wrong.
Shri Humphrey Hadem :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like to raise a point of order in this particular matter. The member should confine himself to the subject -matter of the discussion. The member was talking about auction not about licenses so it is not within the subject-matter of the discussion. He was diverted.
Prof. M.N. Majaw :- That is not diversion. When the hon. Member was speaking of auction means that the person who won the auction will be given the licence. Moreover the hon. Member has raised many points of order that have become blunted.
Shri Humphrey Hadem :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like to have a ruling on this.
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- The mover of the Cut Motion while disapproving the policy of the Government should confine himself only to random granting of licences for illicit distillation and not to go beyond the subject- matter of his cut Motion. Therefore, I will now assert my ruling on this.
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh :- The point now is about granting of licences to bars and liquor shops in the State. I feel Sir, there is something wrong on the part of the Government in granting those licences to the liquor shops and bars. The policy of the Government in giving licence to these liquor shops is for a period of 3 years, as we can understand in Khasi Hills, Jaintia Hills and of course may be in Garo Hills also though I am not so sure about Garo Hills. In Khasi and Jaintia Hills licences have been granted for three years and within these three years the revenue income of the State remains the same. There is no increase of revenue for a period of three years whereas consumption of liquor is more and the population also is growing and increasing more and more every year. So Sir, that is why from the point of view of revenue we find that the same amount remains constant for two or three years whereas there is increased supply of liquor to the public. This is due to ineffective control or in or ineffective check on the part of the Government. There are lots of illicit supply of liquor which come from the different directions of this town as well as from other places of the State. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, we know liquor can be distilled from other sources other than rice, and rice is actually the most essential commodity for consumption by the people of the State, whereas if we allow rice to be converted into liquor we will be facing shortage of rice. That is why, there was a time in October-November last year where we had suffered due to scarcity of rice and there had been even law and order situation and there would have been a breach of peace due to scarcity of rice because of this illicit distillation. Therefore we would request that the Government should have a very effective check on this. But of course, I realise the difficulties of the Department to put an effective check on this illicit distillation or illicit supply of liquor because the Excise staff, as it is at present, are not properly equipped and Excise officers are not properly trained to be able to check this illicit distillation or illicit supply of liquor. Moreover, the Excise Constables are not provided with proper housing or proper quarters. So Sir, I urge upon the Government through your, Sir, to consider this point and I would suggest that Government should construct barracks for the Excise Constables close to the areas where there is Police Force so that they will have proper security and they can put effective check on these illicit distillers. Another thing Sir, I would suggest that the system of auctioning and granting of licence to liquor shops should be abandoned and instead they should auction every year so that the revenue of the Government would increase. It happened that the distillers or licenses whenever they hold the shop for three years they got so much benefit and after expiry of these three years, they try to hold the shops by going to court, so that they could enjoy the benefit of running the shop at the same old rates. In this way, it will become a monopoly of somebody. so Mr. Deputy Speaker Sir, I strongly urge upon the Government to look after this matter so that no monopoly is given to anybody and that no two shops should be settled with one party otherwise there will be always monopoly. So, Sir, it reflects that the Government revenue is not at all increased as we have seen here. But it is decreasing. Sir, moreover, in this budget speech we have seen that the Government is intending to consult the Syiem to give power to the Chief of Elaka of Khasi Hills. I do not know if in other districts the same thing is done. I do not understand what type of power is to be given to them. If power to grant license is given to them I would stand opposed to that type of policy because I understand that if power to grant license is given to anybody, I apprehend there will be indiscriminate granting of license to the villagers. I would, therefore suggest that the power of granting license, if at all, to the local body, it should be given to the District Councils who in turn should delegate such power to the Chief of Elakas. Sir, I would advocate that the Government should grant detection power or police power whereby detection can be done by Durbars and not the Chief alone. The Durbar should be given power for trial and imposition of fine and warning to the illicit dealers. In this connection, I would suggest that revenue should be given to the Elakas especially in Khasi Hills District where the Chief of Elaka is having interest and where the Excise Act was not previously applied. I would suggest that revenue should be divided between Government and the District Council, and in turn the District Council will pay certain percentage of the revenue to the Chief of Elaka otherwise this direct dealing by the Chief of Elaka with the Government will give rise to the Chief of Elaka going against the interest of the controlling authority, i.e., the District Council, So Sir, I would suggest that strict vigilance should be kept by the staff of the Government, of the Excise, and the Police. Sir, we have been that drunkards are using abusive languages; they threatened anybody they met on the way. So I would suggest that Police force should be posted everywhere and these drunkards are punished every time they are found committing nuisance, even to beat or whip them and if necessary to produce them before the Court. Sir, I would like to put another point, that is the supply of liquor. I find that granting of license is really annoying. The rules in Assam Excise Manual show that no liquor shops or bars should be situated in places near the market, schools, religious institutions. But what we have seen here, Sir, liquor shops are situated in such places. For example, I have seen here in Barabazar that one school, i.e. Sein Jaintia School, is almost in the same building with one liquor shop and every time the pupils are witnessing the people in a drunken stage. This is a bad example for the small children of young age and they may copy it later on. so also in bara bazar, liquor shops are situated there. As one of the hon. Members who has spoken before me has stated that even in a residential area, license is granted. I would, therefore suggest that whenever license is granted, it should be granted in such places where it disturbs nobody. The schools children are not easily accessible. And I would suggest that the grant of licese for supplying of liquor, Government should see that there should be a ceiling in the supply of liquor. So far, we know, the Government are getting more revenue from this source and are interested in having revenue but where there is ceiling in production and supply, the quantity of liquor will be sole only at a fixed quantity and not to increase every month and every day. With these few words, I support this Cut Motion.
Shri H.E. Pohshna :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I support this Cut Motion and while supporting it I would like to read from page 17 of the budget speech, paragraph 34, "illicit distillation and sale of illicit liquor are deep -rooted evils which the Government is determined to weed out". Therefore, Sir, although we assume that there will be some opposition to this Motion, but the Finance Minister himself in his Speech has said about the determination of the Government to weed out this deep-rooted evil. Sir, the Motion itself seeks to raise a general discussion on illicit distillation and random grant of license to open bars in the State. Regarding the evils of illicit distillation, this has been admitted by the Government. The result of so many accidents, murder cases, fighting in the street ; these are the evidences that require no more proof and witnesses. I remember, Sir, the day when the people of Jowai have made a representation to the Finance Minister to the Government of Meghalaya-protesting against the setting up of foreign liquor shop especially in Jowai. black flags were show on that day, but still our Government say that it is determined to weed out the evils of illicit distillation but meant say that it is determined to weed out the evils of illicit distillation but on the contrary, by setting up foreign liquor shops they have shown greater determination by granting licences to bars. I really admire the Government in this respect speaking of its policy in one way but doing the other way. (laughter)
I do not know what made our Government to start these bar licences but I think, according to the State Government the statistics show that the supply of liquor is far short of the requirements of the people who used to drink. On the other hand I think it is not a correct statistic because of the very fact that the Government wants to weed out the evils of drinking. There are also popular demands that licences should be stopped as there is already plenty of liquor in the local licensed shops but what made our Government to open these bars by granting them licences we are awaiting for the reply from the Minister-in-charge who has always been able to convince us that we used to withdraw our cut motions on his convincing replies. But so far as this aspect is concerned, I think we will require special replies from the Minister of Excise. We are talking of the Half-A- Million - Job Programme ; we are talking of unemployment and we are talking of boys and girls who are not getting employment. There are cases of the people who are against this idea of starting illicit distillation ; they have to do it because of unemployment. Why not make some regularisation on the sale of local country liquor. I give very good loopholes so that our Finance Minister will be able to convince us. Why not make our own distilleries rather than indenting or importing from beyond the Indian ocean or the Pacific ocean foreign liquors bottled in beautiful colored bottles and sometimes, very enchanting words in the labels, like "born in eighteen so so but still going strong." (Laughter)
Why indent from there ? Is not our country liquor sufficient ? Are there not enough having vitamins or good enough vitamins to make our people dance ? Before the foreign liquor came to the Khasi Hills, Garo Hills or the Jaintia Hills, what kind of liquor did our people take. But the Government is saying that it is determined so weed out the deep rooted evils of illicit distillation whereas at the same time, beautiful liquor shops or bars are opened in conspicuous places of the town. In Jowai I do not know whether a bar has been opened but the idea has attracted our boys so much that there is a hue and cry that the sale of locally prepared country liquor has gone down considerably. Therefore, Sir, before I take my seat, I would request the hon. Members of the treasury Bench to keep at least a little soft corner to this cut motion, this very important matter, which affects the future of our State and which also affects the law and order situation in some corners of the Shillong Town and the Jowai Town. I do not know about the Garo Hills. However, Mr. Koch has already mentioned that upto one O'clock also there are cries "Give us liquor". Therefore, I say that we shall be cooperating with the Government in weeding out this deep-rooted evil. However, I should like to say that something should be done and that these bars should not be allowed to increase, rather they should be abolished, because how can we stand before the people when we are in favour of setting up these bars ? While we say that we do not like people to take liquor yet the Government issued licences for opening more bars. Our Excise Minister happened to be the Finance Minister and his Department will say increase finance and what is the more important source of finance or taxes than the liquor shops ? Not only the distilling of our local liquor but also intending foreign liquor. I really sympathies with him. whereas in the Excise Department whenever they detect cases of illicit distillation they would simply impose a fine thereby increasing revenue. I would once more appeal to him to refer to a very important matter mentioned in page 17 of his Budget Speech to weed out the deep-rooted evils of liquor which is the Government's determination. Thank you, Sir.
Shri Plansing Marak :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, while participating in the cut motion moved by the hon. Member from Mendipathar, Mr. Koch, I would hasten to say that it is not correct for Mr. Koch to say that in Tura there is illicit distillery in every house, Mr. Koch himself has got a house there and, according to his argument, if there is illicit distillery in every house then he also has got one illicit distillery. (laughter)
So what he has said is not a fact, Of course, there are distilleries but not in every house. So his statement is not based on facts. Sir, since the mover of this motion is a Nepali I would raise the objection in Nepali :
"Mo do ...... kanna, our mero"
Khormado rokshini chpaoina".
(Voices, Give us the English translation)
Prof. M.N. Majaw :- According to the rules of the House, we are entitled to an English translation.
Shri Plansing Marak :- I do not drink and I have no wine in my house.
"Mo do roksi kanna, our mero khormado roksipani choina"
Prof. M.N. Majaw :- Mr. Deputy Speaker Sir, of course I do not have a distillery, but all of us drink; some drink water, some drink milk, some drink fruit juice and some drink liquor. But the question here is on illicit distillation and the random grant of licenses. Now, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, drinking of liquor is an ancient as man himself. It is reported in ancient Arabic literature that when Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, they carried away with them a plant of the vine which they planted in the forbidden land of exile, and there it grew and multiplied. So, today, we have so many who are fond of relaxing in pleasant moments with the amber-colored liquid in their hands. The problem, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, as the mover has said is illicit distillation and the random granting of licenses everywhere. Whatever steps the Government may take for prohibition, it will be impossible to implement it, and whatever the Government may do, distillation will continue. So I do not disapprove of the granting of licenses. I do continue. So I do not disapprove of the granting of licenses, I do disapprove of the random granting of licenses and illicit distillation. A man will continue to drink as long as he is fond of it. From the highest to the lowest in this State people are fond of relaxing under such conditions. Random granting of licenses, as the hon. Member from Mawkyrwat has said or to set up bars close to schools is unwise. But I would add that bars should not be set up close to Police Stations (Laughter).
At a first glance I think Police Station would be necessary in order to control the excessive drinking by the clients in bar. But we know from a number of reports that we have received, that when a bar is close to a Police Station, customers in the Bar, far from receiving protection , receive punishment , from the Police. The people may not sometimes get drunk, but Police Officers themselves after drinking in bars may get drunk. I know of one occasion when unfortunately one of my friends was sitting with Police officers drinking and when the police officers were quite tipsy they demanded Rs. 1,000 of him and when he refused to comply they dragged him to the Police Station for his drunken-ness while they themselves were drunk. This has happened on many occasions. I have even seen police officers in uniform drinking in bars. I have of course informed the higher authorities of this matter. As far as illicit distillation is concerned there is one outstanding example which we have been reporting to the higher authorities that is a Umsning. Names have been taken down and a report submitted on those indulging in illicit distillation at Umsning, but nothing has been done. At the Umsning Bazar all these illicit distillers with the blessing of the Excise Department, flourish in secret illicit distillation there. We do not know how they get the support of the Excise Department. Most of these people who are preparing illicit liquor at Umsning Bazar are from outside the State, and they are preparing illicit liquor. Some of the officers have been taken by the villagers to the spot and such persons have been shown to them, but no arrests were made so far. Some of the illicit liquor goes to Kyrdemkulai. there is a net-work of communication. some of the officers told me that they would take action after settling the excise problems of Shillong. The problem of illicit distillation in the interior is always the same as the problem in Shillong. Then again, now that the Government has taken shops complaints have come from certain clients that the quality of liquor is terrible. It is three-fourths water and one-fourth of the original stuff. It seems the Government is encouraging adulteration of liquor. Of course reduces the incidence of drunkenness because it is already too diluted. (Laughter).
If it is mixed with other things it becomes more intoxicating. That is why I support this cut Motion, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, and I request the Government to take steps to check illicit distillation.
Shri M. Reidson Momin :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like to oppose this motion. In the first place, Mr. Deputy Speaker Sir, I would like to refute the statement made by the hon. Member from Mendipathar that in Tura each and every house has illicit distillation. I do not know how he will substantiate this charge because in my own house I do not have one and so also in the case of my neighbours. I have seen no illicit distillation in and around Tura. Now, talking about drunkenness and illicit distillation it will not be possible on the part of the Government to prohibit this liquor because it is a part and parcel of our tribal life and I wonder how the hon. Member from Mendipathar being a member of one tribal community has supported this cut motion. Mr. Deputy Speaker Sir, this selling of liquor is not only earning revenue to the Government but also I would say it provides little employment avenue to those who are dealing with distillation. Mr. Deputy Speaker Sir, while we are trying to achieve self-sufficiency in food-staff, I feel that it is not only rice or food-stuff that we want to have but self-sufficiency in drinks also. That is why the hon. Members from Mawhati has said that some people are fond of taking rice some people are fond of taking drinks. (laughter)
Today, the inhabitants of Shillong are crying for supply of water and those who indulge in drinks are crying for more and more liquor. So Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I do not like to advocate for depriving those people who like to drink. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I do not know much about Shillong but at Tura there is only one Bar. It is not correct to say that every house at Tura has got illicit distillation. But why there is demand of liquor by the people because they like it. Otherwise there would not have been any distillation. I would rather fall in line with the hon. Member from Mawhati that Government should regularise this distillation so that Government may earn more revenue. Therefore, I feel more bars should be opened. You see , Sir, by prohibition or by controlling drinking or non-granting of licence to the people it would rather worsen the spirit of our tribal people specially to those who are habituated to these drinks. I can cite one instance Sir. One day I was standing by the sea-shore of Madras, I was watching the fisherman coming towards the shore. So, I asked them how much of the fishes you have caught today. They said, Sir, we can make no catch today because the Government has introduce prohibition and as such, we do not dare enough to go into the deep sea (laud laughter)
So, Sir, prohibition is something that the Government of Madras had deprived the fishermen of their legitimate right to catch fishes in the deep sea by introducing an Act to bar issue of licences for selling drinks or liquor.
Prof. M.N. Majaw :- Now, they have withdrawn such prohibition.
Shri M. Reidson Momin :- So, Sir, if you prohibit those illicit distillations of liquors, as I have found in the same place in Madras, that before introduction of this prohibition Act, illicit distillation is not encouraged there. I happened to be there during the war time and I found there are a few distillations. But as soon as this Act or prohibition is introduced, large number of people have come forward to make a business out of it and each and every bar in Madras has become automatically an illicit distiller. Also, more and more people become addicted to drinks and get themselves habituated to drinks because you see Sir, illicit distillations would not have been started if free sale of drinks is made without subjecting to any prohibition.
You see, Sir, whenever there is a distiller, people will come and visit his shop and would try to become his customer. At the first instance, the distiller what he did ? He will first taste himself whether his beverage is tasteful or good in such a way as to attract more customers. By the way he tasted the liquor now and then he himself got intoxicated and became a drunkard in course of time. (Loud laughter).
Since there is shortage of time, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would now refer to what the hon. Member from Mendipathar, Shri S.N. Koch had stated that there should be no bar opened in the vicinity of Tura besides the one already in existence in Tura. But Sir, I would refute that statement on the floor of this House that there were no halla-gulla at all in that bar as alleged by him. Some hon. Members also have alleged or stated that some drunkards engaged in goondaism and fight with each other spoil the teenagers. But here Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like to point out that it is not only after taking liquor that one becomes notorious or dangerous. I do not believe that all thieves and mischief makers that were in jail are drunkards. I do not think that only after taking liquor people commit murders or dacoity. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I do not believe that this liquor is an evil but it may be so to those who do not know how to take it, or how to drink. Thus I would agree with the mover of this cut motion that only people who can control themselves and behave themselves, I think, liquor is meant for them. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, with these few words I oppose the Cut Motion.
Shri Jormanick Syiem :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I do not know what is the time allowed. In the first place as the Chair has ruled out that we should confine only to the random granting of licences for distillation, but the Speakers from the other side have traversed on all the activities of the policy of the Government. First of all, I take my hat off to the mark of the hon. Member from Nongtalang for his ignorance that he thought all foreign liquors come from over-seas. This is not correct. (laughter)
Therefore, I would congratulate him for his being a genuine teeto-taller. The people who drink know that foreign liquors are also manufactured in India.
Shri Maham Singh (Mawprem) :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, if a foreign liquor is manufactured in India it is not foreign liquor. But how can a liquor which is manufactured in India be called a foreign liquor ?
Shri Jormanick Syiem :- I do not agree with the hon. Member from Mawprem that all foreign liquors come from over seas and that liquor which is manufactured in India is not a foreign liquor.
Shri H. E. Pohshna :- A man who drinks, as in the "Arabian Knight" think himself he is in Arabia whereas he is in India (Laughter).
Shri Jormanick Syiem :- I was confining myself to the random granting of bar licences. Before bar licence were issued, there were enough drinks. In fact, every tea-shop , every restaurant has become a bar without licence. It was with a view to checking this illicit sale of liquor that Government has introduced bar licences. The liquor which is being used in the bars is a standardized liquor. But liquor that is being sold in tea-shop, restaurants mainly comes from outside which is adulterated country liquor. The fact that the Government is going to start issue of bar licences shows the intention of the Government is going to start issue of bar licences shows the intention of the Government to control illicit sale of liquor. If the people are distilling illicit liquor, it is the fault of the public because they encourage them. Liquor mostly comes from outside. So with the vigilance of the Excise staff and con-operation of the public leaders (Interruption).
Shri H. Hadem :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, the time is up.
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- Since the time is up, the House stands adjourned till 9 a.m. on Friday, the 21st June, 1974.
The 19th June, 1974.
Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.