Proceedings of the Budget Session of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly assembled at 9.30 a.m. on June 21st 1978 in the Assembly Chamber, Shillong with the hon. Speaker in the Chair.
Mr. Speaker :- Now let us start the business of the day by taking up Item No.1- Starred question No.1 of Shri Manik Das.
( To which oral replies were given )
Release of fifty per cent of additional Dearness Allowance
Shri Manik Das asked :
* 1. Will the Minister in-charge of Finance be pleased to state -
(a) Whether the Government is aware that fifty per cent of the additional Dearness Allowance for State Government employees have not yet been released?
(b) If so, when will the Government take action to release the remaining fifty per cent Dearness Allowance?
(c) If not, the reason thereof?
Shri S.D. Khongwir (Deputy Chief Minister, in-charge of Finance) replied :
1. (a)- Dearness Allowance, on the basis of entitlement, for the period from the 1st July, 1974 to 30th June, 1977 was released in November, 1977 with the condition that fifty per cent of the arrear due for the period from 1st July, 1974 to 31st October, 1977 should be paid in cash and the remaining fifty per cent deposited into the respective G.P. Fund Account of the employees.
(b) & (c) - The resources position of the Government is being reviewed and if adequate resources would be available, the question of release of the remaining fifty per cent mentioned at (a) above will be considered.
Shri H. Hadem (Minister, Power, etc.) :- This is a starred question and I think the questioner will have to ask the question.
Shri Manik Das :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to put a question through you. Will the Minister in-charge of Finance be pleased to state....
Mr. Speaker :- No, Mr. Das. You are not to ask again. You have already put it. The reply will now be given by the Deputy Chief Minister.
Shri Manik Das :- So, I am not required to ask but you said....
Mr. Speaker :- No, I didn't. But I have to give you time since you stood up.
Shri D.N. Joshi :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, will the Minister be pleased to state when the adequate resources position will be available for the poor employees?
Shri S.D. Khongwir (Dy. Chief Minister) :- It is already there under (b) and (c) - "The resources position of the State Government is being reviewed".
Mr. Speaker :- Any more supplementaries?
Dr. B.K. Roy :- Will the Minister in-charge of Finance be pleased to note that justice delayed is justice denied?
Mr. Speaker :- That is argumentative. So, let us come to Item No.2 - Voting on Demands for Grants. Will the Chief Minister move Grant No.1?
Shri D.D. Pugh ( Chief Minister) :- On the recommendation of the Governor, I beg, Sir, to move that a sum not exceeding Rs.23,99,200 including the sums already voted on account for the relevant services 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, 1979 for the administration of the head "211- Parliament/State/Union Territory Legislatures-B-State Legislature".
VOTING ON DEMANDS FOR GRANTS
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved and since there is no cut motion I put the question before the House. The question is that a sum not exceeding Rs.23,99,200 including the sums already voted on account for the relevant services 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, 1979 for the administration of the head "211- Parliament/State/Union Territory Legislatures-B-State Legislature".
The motion is carried and the grant is passed.
Will the Chief Minister move Grant No.2?
Shri D.D. Pugh ( Chief Minister) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, on the recommendation of the Governor, I beg, Sir, to move that a sum not exceeding Rs.10,000 including the sums already voted on account for the relevant services 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, 1979 for the administration of the head " 212-Governor".
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved and since there is no cut motion let me put the question before the House. The question is that a sum not exceeding Rs.10,000 including the sums already voted on account for the relevant services 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, 1979 for the administration of the head " 212-Governor".
The motion is carried and Grant No.2 is passed.
Will the Chief Minister move Grant No.3?
Shri D.D. Pugh ( Chief Minister) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, on the recommendation of the Governor, I beg, Sir, to move that a sum not exceeding Rs.9,71,000 including the sums already voted on account for the relevant services 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, 1979 for the administration of the head " 213-Council of Ministers".
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved and since there is no cut motion let me put the question before the House. The question is that a sum not exceeding Rs.9,71,000 including the sums already voted on account for the relevant services 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, 1979 for the administration of the head " 213-Council of Ministers".
The motion is carried and Grant No.3 is passed.
Will the Minister in-charge of Law move Grant No.4?
Prof. M.N. Majaw (Minister, Law) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, on the recommendation of the Governor, I beg, Sir, to move that a sum not exceeding Rs.12,22,000 including the sums already voted on account for the relevant services 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, 1979 for the administration of the head " 214-Administration of Justice".
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved and since there is no cut motion let me put the question before the House. The question is that a sum not exceeding Rs.12,22,000 including the sums already voted on account for the relevant services 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, 1979 for the administration of the head " 214-Administration of Justice".
The motion is carried and Grant No.4 is passed.
Will the Chief Minister move Grant No.5.
Shri D.D. Pugh ( Chief Minister) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, on the recommendation of the Governor, I beg, Sir, to move that a sum not exceeding Rs.9,74,000 including the sums already voted on account for the relevant services 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, 1979 for the administration of the head " 215-Elections".
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. But here I have received two cut motions. One is a policy cut and the other a token cut in the name of Mr. D.N. Joshi and Dr. B.K. Roy respectively. When I look at both of them I find that they are more or less of the same nature and before I ask the hon. Member concerned to move, may I have the opinion of Dr. B.K. Roy whether he would like his cut motion clubbed with the first cut motion?
Dr. B.K. Roy :- Yes, Sir.
Mr. Speaker :- So, Mr. Joshi, would you kindly move your cut motion.
Shri D.N. Joshi :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that the total provision of Rs.9,74,000 under Grant No.5, Major head "215-Elections" at page 25 of the Budget be reduced to Re. 1, i.e., the amount of the whole grant of Rs.9,74,000 do stand reduced to Re.1.
*Shri D.N. Joshi :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, here in Meghalaya, the Election Commission of India, and not only in Meghalaya but in all the States, is the agency to prepare the electoral rolls for the respective States for the Parliamentary elections, Legislative Assembly elections and wherever there is provision for the District Council election. Now Sir, here in Meghalaya, our Government agency no doubt prepared the electoral rolls but to our dismay, Sir, in 1975 the electoral rolls were sought to be revised by the Election Commission of India and the State Government had done it. But thousands of eligible voters consisting of different types of linguistic groups including the minorities were left out, I say, deliberately. In 1972 elections and in in 1971 Parliamentary elections, the people were there in the electoral rolls but even their names were left out subsequently. In the West Khasi Hills District, hundreds of people who were eligible voters right from the time of Independence of India, right after the adoption of the Constitution of India, their names were left out. In the different Parliamentary and Legislative Assembly election even their names were not to be found. Here in Shillong and other parts of Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hill the same case happened. I took up the matter here on the floor of this Assembly and also with the Government in the Secretariat and in the Election Department. I also took up the matter right up to the Election Commission of India. They extended the time limit also for inclusion of those names who were eligible voters previously. But alas those unfortunate voters who have voted in the previous general elections their names were not to be found. In the Parliamentary elections last year, again the electoral rolls were prepared but the unfortunate voters had to meet with the same sorry plight, their names were not included. Various leaders from various communities gave representations and I also gave representations to the Government, to the Election Department but no action whatsoever was taken to include their names in the Legislative Assembly elections. Sir, again time was given before that and thousands of applications were submitted to the authorities concerned by the aggrieved persons but the Government machinery moved in such a way that it deprived thousands and thousands of eligible voters of exercising their right of franchise because their names did not appear in the electoral rolls. Most of the victims of this deliberate action of the Government machinery were the people coming from the minority groups, that is, the non-tribals. Of course tribals were also there, but their number was not in proportion with the number of the non-tribals. Sir, some young people were recruited by the Government in the Election Department as enumerators and whenever they visited any how of the minority group in the villages, they said, well unless you get the certificate from the gaonbura or a village headman that you are a permanent resident here, you will not be enumerated, even when your name appeared in the previous electoral rolls. In some cases, the enumerators entered their names and gave a duplicate copy. But later on, again the same enumerators were there and they asked for the return of the duplicate copies on the pretext that it will again be returned to them after due correction, but they were never returned. These things were there and were brought to the notice of the Election Department, but no tangible step was taken subsequently. Sir, in many cases, both in the urban and rural areas, thousands of people who wanted to have the representatives of their own liking returned could not exercise their right of franchise. This is a total denial of the fundamental right guarantee under the Constitution to the citizens of the country. I am afraid there may be some motive behind this move of treating some people who have adopted this land as their own as non-resident of the State under the plea that they did not vote in the recent elections. These unfortunate people did not foreseen things and did not keep copies with them of the previous electoral rolls to prove that they have voted several times. But I believe Sir, there will be records in the Government to prove that those people whose names were not included were voters in the previous elections, and they were very much the residents of Meghalaya. These young people, who attain the age of 21 years who are eligible for voting were not also included, I mean those youngsters who were born and brought up here in Meghalaya and who though they were born in a free India and were proud of it. But then these people are debarred on account of this deliberate action of the Government. Therefore, Sir, in all earnestness, I would urge upon the Government in future to see that not a single citizen of this country residing in Meghalaya and adopting Meghalaya as his permanent abode should be deprived of exercising his fundamental right of voting for their representatives to the Parliament or to the State legislature or to the District Councils. With these few words Sir, I again maintain and propose that the grant under Demand No.5 sought to be granted be reduced to rupee one. Thank you, Sir.
Dr. B.K. Roy :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am also a mover of the cut motion and I would also like to make some observation.
Mr. Speaker :- But this time you are a supporter.
Dr. B.K. Roy :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, the elections in our country the biggest democracy in the world, are held on the basis of adult franchise. Every person who is a citizen of India and who is not less than 21 years of age and who is ordinarily a resident of the country shall be enrolled as and electorate and shall exercise his franchise and this sacred right of a citizen has been very clearly given by our Constitution under Articles 324, 325, 327 and 328. We have got no doubt about it. Volumes and volumes have been written as to what is meant by franchise and what are the qualifications of an electorate. But here Sir, in our State, the electoral rolls are prepared I should say on a partisan spirit. Those who are engaged in making the electoral rolls either belong to the ruling party. Or the machinery which makes it in spite of clearly defined policies and principles of the Election Commission, in spite of the superintendence by the Election Commission carries on with the execution of the job on partisan spirit. This Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am going to substantiate by some clear instances. In my own constituency at Raj Bhavan where there are many employees the name of a vast majority of these employees could not fine place in the electoral rolls. It is not a mere case of oversight, because I have found that if there are 12 rooms in a barrack, all rooms have been marked with numbering by chalk by the enumerators. But strangely enough, the names of the inhabitants of one or two rooms are there in the electoral rolls deliberately reflecting the names of all other members, and what is more surprising, these people belong to some particular communities. We brought it to the notice of the Government authorities and we met the officers and were told that those people were treated as floating population and Sir, they are working as the stage of the Raj Bhavan itself. The question went right up to the Election Commission and we were made to understand through a release through the All India Radio that this been done because in this particular are a in the State of Meghalaya it is very difficult to differentiate who are the real residents and who are the floating population. Mr. Speaker, Sir, my contention is that I do believe, the floating population is there all over India, but that does not mean that there are no genuine residents, foreigners unless other wise proved. To prove that they are residents, there must be some machinery by which this question can be solved in an easy process. We met the Election Commission and we were told by the Chief Election Commissioner that there must be some easy process and although it is a difficult thing some process must be evolved. But Mr. Speaker, Sir, in spite of the assurance given by the Constitution of India and by the Election Commission that no person shall be excluded on the basis of religion, caste, race, sect and so on and every person who is a citizen of India who has attained 21 years of age, who has got a sound mind and who is a resident, shall not be debarred from exercising his right of franchise. Here I bring to your notice Mr. Speaker, Sir, and through you to the House that the question of residence or non-residence reveal a distinct pattern. The pattern as I cited the example of the Government House, is a clear one. What about those cases of Shella? There were about 400 Garo voters, and these 400 Garo voters were taken off from the electoral rolls before the last Lok Sabha election. Again while the electoral rolls were prepared for Laban four months after the Lok Sabha Polls there appeared an omission of more than 1000 voters in the constituency. And those people belong to one particular community. This is the pattern Mr. Speaker, Sir, which shows that these electoral rolls are prepared just to satisfy the advantages of a particular party or a particular machinery. Now we have been told that when the name is not there in the electoral roll a man has got every right to put his claim after primary Roll is published. This is a very simple thing on paper or when we talk in a conference or in a seminar, but one who has to pass through the ordeal, knows what is that simple thing of getting into the final Roll. A man has to pass through a peculiar process to prove his case. He has to swear in an affidavit, to produce documents and wait on the officer concerned and then he has been told to come after some days or on such and such date. After waiting in vain for four or five days, he is finally told that all the members of his family were not physically present and so has to come on some other day. In this way, as man would feel that it would be of no use trying such an impossible and strenuous job just to exercise his franchise and ultimately would give up pursuing the matter at some stage. One of the instances I can cite is in regard to my own constituency. When the last date for submission of claim was given, 367 people came and submitted their applications. I had to run again and again from the Chief Electoral Officer to the Deputy Commissioner who was also the Returning officer then to the Electoral Registration Officer. I myself told the Electoral Registration Officer that these people had come with all possible records they have come with their pattas, service, documents along with the whole family paying for transport and are without food for the whole day. And yet they cannot have their names enrolled. The Officer was kind enough to tell me that they have to wait. He said "I cannot myself take up their care, I have only two hands, I work upto 2 o'clock every night, I cannot do it." This is the way how the claimants are dealt with. And then subsequently one Lower Division Assistant was deputed to check up the documents.
The Lower Division Assistant examined all these things and took the decision. To my utter dismay, I found that only 57 our of that long list of 367 were taken as voters. We do not know whether they would vote for us or for other parties. According to me, Mr. Speaker, Sir, this is a queer way of running so called free and fair election. Now, Mr. Speaker, Sir, while corroborating with the hon. Member, Shri Joshi who said that many voters names are left out although they were given duplicate copies of receipts during enumeration. These enumerators are appointed on adhoc basis from time to time by some particular machinery to satisfy the needs and purpose of some particular parties. The enumerators who are interested in a particular party either A.P.H.L.C., H.S.P.D.P. or P.D.I.C. help their own supporters. this acts as a boomerang to us. they act as agents of some secret machinery of electing the members of the House who themselves do not know whether they were benefited or itarmed. It is impossible for such machinery to do justice to any individual candidate or party. Lapses are bound to occur under the existing system. My contention is that the Government must find our a more efficient and clear cut machinery in getting all the names enumerated. Now Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am bringing the question of enumeration of voters under the Sixth Schedule. I refer to Para 2 of the Sixth Schedule which is as follows. There shall be a District Council for each Autonomous District consisting of not more than 30 members.
Mr. Speaker : What is that for?
Shri B.K. Roy : It is in the Constitution itself and it refers to Election machinery as a whole.
"There shall be a District Council for each Autonomous District consisting of not more than 30 members of whom not more than 4 persons shall be nominated by the Governor and the rest shall be elected on the basis of adult franchise." Sir, this adult suffrages has been interpreted by our legislators in the District Council to the best of their own suitability and advantage. Under the same Section 2 the Governor may make rules for the first constitution with the existing Tribal Council of other representatives tribal organisation within the Autonomous District and such rules shall provide of qualifications as in 6 (c) for preparation of electoral rolls thereof. Now can, Mr. Speaker, Sir, the rules be formed in contravention of the parent clause 2 of the Constitution under the Sixth Schedule where it is distinctly noted as "adult suffrage" ? Can the District Council make such rules that those who are not residents for 12 years cannot find place in the Electoral Rolls? Under what Constitutional provision, that 12 years' period came in? It is mentioned anywhere in the Constitution that the eligibility of suffrage of a person had to be determined by his residence in a place for 12 years. It is something impossible to determine whether a man actually stayed at a place for 12 years. I have seen from my experience during the last District Council election when I found 395 names from my Constituency were cut off from the existing Electoral Roll prepared for L.A. Election. That was done on an arbitrary basis. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I wonder how an illegal rule can be framed and how it can be correctly executed. This is just denial of the basic rights of the citizens promised by any Constitution. So long as we are privileged by this Constitution that the election has to be held under adult suffrage any other rules which are framed under cover of Sixth Schedule are ultra-vires. Mr. Speaker, Sir, the question of residence is a very tricky question. I had an occasion to have a discussion with the Constitutional experts and have I no doubt about the invalidity and illegality of the stipulation of 12 years residence not only in respect of the District Council election but of various other matters. This question also comes in the Land Transfer Act and Permanent Residential Certificate. I demand that the Advocate General be summoned to this House and let his give his opinion as to what is meant by non- residents. I demand Mr. Speaker, Sir, under the rules of procedure, let the Advocate General be called to this House to give his opinion . The State was born with the greatest amount of good will from the rest of India. The non-tribals in the State, Mr. Speaker, Sir, by and large supported this movement. I for one, carried the flag in 1960 during the language movement after Silchar firing I was a victim of oppression yet we fought under the same banner and formed the basis of the Hills State movement. I was one who carried the banner in the front line and shouted slogans against the repression of the minorities. This State was born out of the good -will from the rest of India and this State will have to show an example to the rest of India that the question of minorities which ahs been accepted and approved by the rest of India and gave us the State still remains as a guide line in our attitude to the people who are now the minorities in this State. We want to show to the people of the country that the rights of those who have turned minority now have been safeguarded in so far as their occupation and their stay here in the State with honour and dignity are concerned. Their stay here with the rights and privileges of full-fledged citizens is vitally concerned will their rights to exercise their franchise. I fully appreciate the Finance Minister when he said yesterday that Government was primarily trying to meet the problems of the tribal people; this will be done without leveling down other sections of the community in the State. There is much preaching both inside and outside the House that the interest of the minorities in so far as their rights and privileges are concerned have been maintained. But in practice they are just non-residents", they are "foreigners". So I just pose this question to this august House to see how long and in how many ways will this discrimination go on like this. How long will it take for us to feel that the best interest of the minority is safeguarded by the liberal attitude of the majority (interruption).
Shri D.D. Pugh (Chief Minister) : On reciprocal basis.
Shri B.K. Roy : Yes, definitely. I will just give one more aspect of it. The minorities have never provoked in any way. Very silently they have gone through this hardship under good leadership. Predominantly they maintain that good sense would prevail in the State. A sense of amity and harmony will prevail, for they do not want to create any sort of chaos and so there was no provocation from the side of the minority whatsoever.
Shri Mukul Das : Mr. Speaker, Sir, while supporting the motion I want to make only a few observations as one of the hon. Members has already expressed his opinion. I am simply to add that the Government machinery in the Election Officers of our State should be very very particular about the particulars in connection with the electoral rolls. I also feel that those Government Officers who are dealing with the files and papers should be given proper training so that they would be able to avoid any mistakes in the electoral rolls. Why I say this Mr. Speaker, Sir, because I have seen young boys and girls have been recruited to act as enumerators. While they go for enumeration, it has been noticed that sometimes they simply contact the headman of the village and used to collect the names of voters from his only. Hence it appears that so many mistakes are made in the electoral rolls. Actually, they should be given proper instructions to go from door to door and enter the correct names of all the eligible voters so that they can exercise their franchise rightly. Sometimes we have also seen Mr. Speaker, Sir, that even the names of important public leaders also do not appear in the electoral rolls. In the case of myself, when I went to the Election office surprisingly I have not seen even my name in the electoral roll. But on the other hand, Mr. Speaker, Sir, there are also many other serious mistakes in the electoral rolls. I will just give an instance before the House and then I will resume my seat. The instance is that in one electoral roll before the last Assembly election I found that my name did not appear in the electoral roll and after pursuing the officer I got my name enrolled. I have seen it appeared like this Mukul Das, aged 28 and Shrimati S. Das aged 65, wife of Mukul Das. ( loud laughter).
Shri S.P. Swer : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I rise to oppose the cut motion. Since the cut motion is a policy out, I have to oppose the motion. If it was only a token cut then I would have supported it because the electoral rolls in the last Assembly Election were prepared hurriedly and there many many names not to speak of non-tribals but even tribals, the Khasis and Garos, as one hon. Member has said that Garos in Shella were omitted in quite a big number. So also is the case in every constituency. But Mr. Speaker, Sir, the Government had prepared the electoral rolls and it is only a question of lapses here and there but nobody can say that the policy of the Government is not to have an electoral roll for all eligible voters. We know that our State has a long border with a foreign country and we know also in our country due to some ties of friendship with a neighbouring country there are people in our State whom we have to question about the eligibility of becoming voter in our election. Therefore, it is for the Government to make proper enquiry to see that nobody is being discriminated against because of the criteria as has already been quoted from the Constitution by the hon. Member from Pynthorumkhrah. But it is true and it is a fact that in the Constitution itself it has been mentioned that nobody is to be enrolled in the electoral roll if he is a foreign national. Therefore, we cannot expect that anybody and everybody whether they are floating population or anything should be enrolled as voters. Therefore it was right and proper that the enumerators should make proper enquiry whether they are eligible voters or not in the last two general elections. Again Mr. Speaker, Sir, we know that the electoral roll was prepared before we were returned to this House. Had it been, as stated by the hon. Member, that the electoral roll is only meant for tribals and not for others then I think the hon. Members on the other side would not have come to this House. Therefore, electoral rolls are meant for all, of course there are certain lapses there and there. It has also been mentioned by the hon. Members from the other side that the electoral roll was prepared in such a way by the enumerators so that it will serve the interest of this party or that party. If it is so, the question is, when this electoral roll was prepared, which party was running the Government. It was prepared at the time when our friends on the other side were on this side. Mr. Speaker, Sir, if there is a lapse it is not the lapse of this Government but it is the lapse of the previous Government i.e., the Congress Government. This was prepared at the time when our friends on the other side were sitting on this side. So, Mr. Speaker, Sir, if there is a lapse it is of the Congress Government. Sir, just because of change of the position of sitting the politicians should not change their principles. (Voices- hear, hear )
They should not change their principles. When my friends were sitting on this side they aid nothing about this matter but at this moment since they are sitting on the other side they have launched an attack on this Government.
Shri D.N. Joshi : Mr. Speaker, Sir, on a point of information. I raised this issue several times on the floor of this House.
Mr. Speaker : Mr. Joshi, let the hon. Member finish his speech.
Shri S.P. Swer : So, Mr. Speaker, Sir, once again I say it is the lapse of the Congress Government when this electorate roll was prepared. The hon. Members from Pynthorumkhrah has questioned about the electoral rolls of the autonomous District Council election and he has also quoted the rules of the Autonomous District Council which were prepared some time during 1951 which were known as Assam Autonomous District Council Rules, 1951 and since then nobody has from any quarter ever challenged these rules.
Shri B.K. Roy : Mr. Speaker, Sir, it is time barred. Since nobody raised this question so long, it cannot be raised now?
Shri S.P. Swer : Mr. Speaker, Sir, then why raised here, the court of law is the proper forum to challenge these rules. So I say that the charges against the Government on this particular Grant have not foundation at all and therefore I oppose the cut motion.
Shri Upstar Kharbuli : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would also like to support the cut motion. First of all my supporting this cut motion is not with a view to prevent the Government to provide any fund for this particular head, rather we would like the Government to provide more fund under this head because we feel it is a very very important Department. But in order to raise a discussion on the subject, according to parliamentary procedure, we have no other method but to come through a cut motion. So here I find from what I have heard so far from all the hon. Member who have taken part on this particular subject today, one thing in common is that it seems we all accepted that there have been anomalies in the preparation of electoral rolls. As Mr. Mukul Das the hon. Member from Dalu, has pointed out I feel that it is true that the system or the machinery by which these rolls were prepared is somewhat very very defective. We are doing it on a war footing by which we can never expect to have good results. We find that enumerators were recruited by taking people at random and at times, hurriedly. There has been misunderstanding on either side of the House attributing that such malpractice was the act of the ruling party then in power. I think this is the misunderstanding or misconception on the part of the members. Why can't we do deeper into the things and find out exactly what was wrong with the process. I am inclined to agree with Mr. Mukul Das when he said that the enumerators we are having can afford to be irresponsible because they are being appointed on an adhoc basis. They are here today to enumerate but tomorrow when you go to the Election Office, they are not longer there and as a result, there is nobody to take the responsibility if there have been lapses in enumeration. I would suggest that if the Government consider it desirable we should try to appoint the enumerators on a somewhat permanent basis in this respect. Why can't we have enumerators who should be there somewhat permanently and should not only be there just at the time when the electoral rolls are prepared and after some time no longer there to explain the lapses. If we can have the enumerators to explain their lapses in case there are detected later on, then we can to some extent, check such lapses. That is why, as I said, the money provided or earmarked may not be sufficient to take permanent staff for this purpose.
Mr. Speaker : So you want more.
Shri Upstar Kharbuli : Why not Government provide some more money to appoint the enumerators on a permanent basis. This is my only suggestion which I feel I should offer in this respect with a view to improve the quality of the electoral rolls from now onwards so that no misunderstanding can be here in the minds of the hon. Members who sometimes wrongly suspect the Government.
Shri Maham Singh : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I rise to support he cut motion. In this connection, I feel it is not use laming this or that party. It is not use saying that the congress was at fault for the wrong enrolment that occurred in the last election. It is no use also blaming the A.P.H.L.C. for the wrong enrolment made in the previous election. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would submit that the defect is in the procedure itself as has been mentioned by my friend the hon. member from Malki. What ahs happened is that we find that just before the elections, enumerators have been appointed on adhoc- basis. These enumerators have their own political leanings. We find that in certain places, the names of certain people belonging to one party appear in the electoral roll. In other places, we find that the names of persons belonging to another party being left out. Just before the M.P. election, I had been to one village in Maharam Syiemship. There are 350 houses in that village, but the number of voters is only 400(At this stage, the Speaker left the Chamber and the Deputy Speaker, took the Chair). What does it mean Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir? It means that in certain houses, the name of the wife also has entered in the electoral rolls and in other cases, it may be that only the name of the husband has been entered. We find in certain cases, the names of boys of only 12 or 13 years of age appeared in the electoral roll. We also find that in certain cases, the whole village has been left out completely. We feel that the defect is in the very system of enumeration itself. It is because these enumerators have been appointed on adhoc basis. They have acted, therefore, in an irresponsible manner. They can afford to be irresponsible, why- because they are not answerable to any one. They know also that within a few months' time, their services will no longer be required. Therefore, I feel as ahs been said by one of the hon. member is that we should seriously consider whether this system should not be changed and whether will not be possible to have permanent enumerators for enrollment of names in the electoral rolls. Unless the system is changed, I think this difficulty will continue and it will continue even in next election. We find that a number of names have not been included, as ahs been said, in Laban and Malki. It is not in the case of non-tribals only. I find in one case, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, that the first original settlers of Laban who had lived there for generations together, people who own lands and who have got houses and have not stayed anywhere else, the whole family has been left out completely. However for those people living in the town, it is quite easy for them to go and come to the Election officer for entry of their names. But for the people living in the villages, the hardship is too much. It is too great a hardship to come and go from the village to come over there to swear an affidavit for getting their names entered in the electoral rolls. The hardship actually is too much and therefore, many of them would rather give up their right than have to spend a huge amount of money going and coming for having an entry of their names which, as a matter of course, should have entered in the electoral rolls. Therefore, the hardship is more on the people living in the villages and Mr. Speaker, Sir, during the last election I found that my own name has been wrongly spelled. It was written so wrongly that it appears as if my name was not there. When I went through the electoral roll, I found my name was not here. I had to fill in the application form with correct name and correct spelling.
Mr. Speaker : And your Mrs.?
Mr. Maham Singh : Mrs. also, there was correction. So Mr. Speaker, Sir, the Government should seriously consider this matter and try to modify the system. The people who have got the right to vote should be able to exercise their right for voting which is one of the fundamental rights which every adult citizen of India has Unfortunately many voters have been denied that right just because the machinery of the Government is not running in a proper manner. With these few words, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I resume my seat.
*Shri M. Reidson Momin : Mr. Speaker, Sir, while supporting the cut motion, I would like also to make a few observations. Mr. Speaker, Sir, in fact there had been a lot of lapses and lot of omissions and commissions in the preparation of this electoral roll and also while conducting the election it is no use, Mr. Speaker, Sir, to try to blame the previous Congress Government or the present colliding Government (laughter). I call it the colliding Government because here in the Assembly both the HSPDP and the PDIC and also the APHLC are in coalition whereas when there was election in the Garo Hills district and the Jaintia Hills district they have been fighting each other. I am not talking about myself. I just feel sorry or this present Government. So Sir, certain villages have been completely left out and I do not know how really this could have happened. Well my colleagues have already spoken about this. I know we have got temporary enumerators and they have gone to the villages and yet I do not know how they could leave certain villages without even preparing the electoral roll. There have been ins some villages, even in Tura town itself, I must say, certain bonafide residents, permanent residents even our own Garo people who have been left out. The whole family has been completely cut off from the pervious L.A electoral roll. So Sir, I do not understand how this had happened. Whether it was intentionally done to serve the interest of the rulling groups or ruling parties. I do not know. This is a very serious matter and it is the Government's machinery which is to be blamed So, Sir, I think in future the Election Department should be more careful and should instruct the respective officers at the sub-divisional level to see that the electoral rolls are prepared in a proper manner. Also, Mr. Speaker, Sir, for making election campaigns, I found to my utter surprise, Government vehicles were plying freely with national flags visiting police stations in some of the villages of their constituencies.
Mr. Speaker : But that is not relevant to this grant Mr. Reidson Momin.
Shri M. Reidson Momin : Then, Mr. Speaker, Sir, another thing which I am very much concerned is that the polling officers do not care to call out the names of the voters.
Mr. Speaker : Mr. Momin, that also is not relevant to the cut motion.
Shri M. Reidson Momin : Alright , Mr. Speaker, Sir. But I am very much concerned about this. But since you donot allow me, I will resume my seat.
Mr. Speaker : I think we have had enough discussion on this and since no other hon. Member would like to say something more on this, I would call upon the Chief Minister to reply.
*Shri D.D. Pugh (Chief Minister ) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, at the very outset I would like to remind the House of the fact that the work of preparing the electoral rolls and conducting the elections is carried out under the supervision and direction and control of the Election Commission of the Government of India. The policy for this purpose is therefore evolved by the Commission and not by the State Government. As such, it is obvious, Mr. Speaker, Sir, from all that have been said from both sides of the House, that the hon. members are fully aware of the fact how the electoral rolls are prepared. I shall, therefore, not unnecessarily waster the time of the House by describing step by step the various procedures that are involved in the preparation of the electoral rolls. But I will certainly like to remind the hon. members of the fact that the work of preparation of the electoral rolls by the process of intensive revision is carried out in the previous year as directed by the Election Commission of the Government of India. During the year of intensive revision the 1st of January is taken as the qualified date as provided for in the Representation of People Act, 1950. It is true, Mr. Speaker, Sir, that in spite of the various legal provisions and elaborate instruction issued by the Election Commission, sometimes it is found that the enumeration work does not always come up to expectation. Complaints are filed by members of the public on the one hand for non inclusion of names and on the other hand particularly form the indigenous people about inclusion of names of people not eligible to vote. As a result of which inflation of the electoral rolls in the State is caused. It is very true Mr. Speaker, Sir, that as stated by the hon. mover of the cut motion now under consideration, names of voters have been left out but at this point I wish to emphasise the fact that it is not only the names of non-tribal voters which were left out, excluded or deleted, perhaps by mistakes, but also those of tribals and I am indeed very glad and happy that the hon. mover of the cut motion that despite representations made by him and by other public men to rectify the discrepancies in such cases where according to them names of eligible voters had been left out and that no action was taken. I would like to remind the hon. mover of the occasion when both he and I were present in the office of the Electoral Registration Officer when we had gone for the same purpose and Mr. Speaker, Sir, I know for a fact that action was in fact taken. It may be that not all the names of the people her sought to be included can be included or were in fact included but the fact remains that the Election Department did take action and they took action both in the case of tribal and non. tribals voters. Actually Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would also like to draw the attention of the hon. Speaker, Sir, I would also like to draw the attention of the hon. mover in particular and also the hon. member from Pynthorumkhrah to the fact that a certain person's name was included as a voter in the electoral roll which was used in the elections of 1972 is not a conclusive proof of the fact that particular person was in fact eligible to be enrolled. Then again Mr. Speaker, Sir, it has been noted that on enquiry the number of voters in 1977 was 5,30,326 whereas in 1978 the figures rose to 5,85023 thereby making an increase of 54, 697 voters. This Mr. Speaker, Sir, shows an increase of 10 per cent within a very short period of time and it also goes to prove beyond any shadow of doubt that the Election Department did take action when representations and applications were made on this account. Now one of the supporters of the cut motion spoke at great length about the discrepancy as he alleged in the preparation of the electoral rolls used for election or elections to the District Council. In this regard Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like or remind him, through you, of the fact that the grant relates to the election to the Lok Sabha and the Legislative Assembly and not to the District Council and in fact any mention of the so-called discrepancies in the preparation of the electoral rolls for use in the election to the District Councils is irrelevant. It does not fall with the purview of the grant under discussion. Nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I shall oblige him by mentioning very briefly that the electoral rolls for sue in election to the District Council are prepared on the basis of the electoral rolls prepared for elections to the Legislative Assembly and they are revised so as to ensure that the names of those who are not qualified to vote to participate in the elections to the District Councils as per rules of 1951 are deleted. In this connection, the hon. member from Pynthorumkhrah had an occasion to make a statement which tantamounts to challenging the validity of the rules, Autonomous District Council Rules made under the Sixth Schedule. In this connection Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to state that in case the hon. member considers the Autonomous District Council Rules to be illegal and unconstitutional or ultra-vires, the proper forum to take up the matter is the court of law and not this House. While speaking on the same point, the, the hon. Member made a very strong demand that the Advocate General be summoned to this House to give his legal opinion. It is true Mr. Speaker, Sir, that the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business do provide for the summoning of the Advocate General to this House when it is considered necessary to take this legal advice. But in the context of a cut motion now under consideration, my submission Mr. Speaker, Sir, is that the demand of the hon. Speaker is not relevant. I wish to repeat Mr. Speaker, Sir, what I said at the very beginning of my reply. I wish to emphasise the fact that the work of preparation of the electoral rolls and conduct of the election are carried out under the superintendence, direction and control of the Election Commission of India. The policy for this purpose is evolved by the Commission and not by the State Government as mentioned in the cut motion. I am prepared Mr. Speaker, Sir, to admit that if is possible that there might have been some names which were wrongly excluded and there might have been some cases where names of people were wrongly included. This defect or discrepancy is not the outcome of the State Government policy. And when I say this, I agree with the hon. Member from the other side of this House who stated that there is not sense, there is no sense, there is absolutely no sense in finding fault with the State Government that is formed by this or that party. It is possible that some discrepancies, some defects may have crept in but it is, I repeat Mr. Speaker, Sir, not the outcome of the State Government policy. It has been suggested by the hon. Member from Malki- Nongthymmai after he had made a very rational statement... "perhaps it is high time that we consider the need to do away with the appointment of the enumerating staff which is today made on adhoc basis and to consider the advisability of appointing the staff on a permanent basis"... A note of this suggestion has been made and infact, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I wish to state that this very aspect of the thing is receiving the attention of the Election Commission itself. With this clarification given Mr. Speaker, Sir, through you, I wish to request the hon. mover to withdraw his cut motion.
Shri D.N. Joshi : Mr. Speaker, Sir, in view of the explanation given by the Chief Minister and in view of the assurance that in future all eligible voters irrespective of their being different linguistic groups in the State be included in the electoral rolls and in view of the assurance that enumeration will be so designed an reorganised to ensure proper inclusion of all the names of eligible voters in the electoral rolls in the State, I withdraw my cut motion.
Shri D.D. Pugh (Chief Minister) : On a point of correction, I have not stated anywhere at any time that I have given the assurance that he entire machinery will be overhauled., What I said was that it is receiving the attention and consideration of the Election Commission itself.
Shri D.N. Joshi : When the highest authority of the land is alive to this problem and the State Government is quire concerned that fair justice is meted out to all eligible voters, 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.
And now, since the second cut motion has been already clubbed with the first cut motion, let me put the question before the House. The question is that a sum not exceeding Rs.9,74,000 including the sums already voted on account for the relevant services be granted to the Minister in- charge to defray certain charge which will come in the course of payment during the year ending the 31st March, 1979 for the administration of he head "215- Elections".
The motion is carried and the demand is passed.
Now, Minister- in- charge of Revenue to move Grant No.6
Shri M.N. Majaw (Minister, Revenue) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, on the recommendation of the Governor, I beg to move that a sum not exceeding Rs.41,68,000 including the sums already voted on account for the relevant services be granted to the Minister in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending the 31st March, 1979 for the administration of the heads "229- Land Revenue, 288- Social Security and Welfare - B- II- Relief and Rehabilitation of Displaced Persons, 289- Relief on account of Natural Calamities, 295- Other Social and Community Services, 304- Other General Economic Services- III- Land Ceilings, 688- Loans for Social Security and Welfare - III- Welfare- III - Welfare of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes, 695- Loans for Other Social and Community Services and 705- Loans for Agriculture".
Mr. Speaker : Motion moved. I have received one cut motion which stands in the name of Shri Manik Das. Mr. Manik Das to move.
Shri Manik Das : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that the total provision of Rs. 41,68,000 under Grant No.6, major head " 229- Land Revenue" at page 32 of the budget, be reduced to Re.1 i.e., the amount of the whole grant of Rs. 41,68,000 do stand reduced to Re. 1.
Mr. Speaker : Motion moved. Now, you can initiate the discussion.
Shri Manik Das : Mr. Speaker, Sir, the boundary dispute with our neighbouring State of Assam is posing a problem to our State. IN the course of the budget discussion much ahs been said about the boundary disputes with Assam. But, unfortunately, none of the hon. Members has touched upon the boundary disputers as far as the districts of Garo Hills are concerned. To know the actual problem of the boundary disputes in Garo Hills, we must go into the background of the entire which was being followed, particularly in Mouzas number 6, number 7 and number 8. As far back as 1873-74, one Mr. Beckett, while sitting in the Circuit House at Dhubri in Assam, drew a line with the stroke of his pen which constituted the boundary between the Goalpara District of Assam and Garo Hills, then also a part of Assam. The entire control of land in these mouzas was in the hands of Zamindars of Lakhipur, Gauripur, Koirali and Koroibari. Subsequently, the area of Karumarupara the entire area under Mouza number 6 was handed over by the Zamindar to the Deputy Commissioner of Garo Hills only for the purpose of land revenue. There was an agreement made between the Zamindar and the Deputy Commissioner of Garo Hills only for the purpose of land revenue. There was an agreement made between the Zamindar and the Deputy Commissioner of Garo Hills then. However, the management of the fishery situated in the river jinjiram was not handed over to the Deputy Commissioner of Garo Hills.
It would be very appropriate to point out here, Mr. Speaker, Sir, that a large portion of this river Jinjiram falls within the Garo Hills District. Since the abolition of the Zamindari System, the fishery was directly administered by the Government of Assam; and since Garo Hills as well as Goalpara were parts of Assam, the people from both the districts could have the right to take part in the auction. When the Government of Assam formulated the policy that the fisheries should be settle with the co-operatives of the actual fishermen, the fishermen of Garo Hills were deprived of their right to fish in Jinjiram river and also to have any settlement. Mr. Speaker, Sir, 40 per cent of the river Jinjiram falls within the State of Meghalaya. One fishery of Jiadoba, which was settled with Garo Hills District with the Phulbari Fishery Co-operative Society, is adjoining the fishery of Jinjiram river. Last year, immediately after floods, three fishermen belonging to Meghalaya were fishing at Jiadoba and the Police from South Salmara in Assam cam and took them into custody. They were taken away from our own territory to Dhubri for trial. These fishermen were produced before the Magistrate in the Court of the Deputy Commissioner, Dhubri, and subsequently they were granted bail. However, their fishing materials are yet to be returned to them.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, the entire belt of Mouza number 6 is a flood prone area. Every year the flood comes and the entire course of the river changes. The river Jinjiram has changed its course in several places in such a way that a large portion of cultivable land belonging to Meghalaya has now gone to the other bank of the river. The people from the Goalpara District living on the other side of the river have forcibly occupied these cultivable lands. The owners or these lands are Meghalayans. Here I would like to mention, Mr. Speaker, Sir, the areas where the people from Goalpara have occupied our lands. These areas are Kowajani, Samding, Magurmari, Chitolkata and Sabang, near Jugirjhar. Mr. Speaker, the farmers of Samding, Magurmari, Chitolkata and Sabang, near Jugirjhar. Mr. Speaker, the farmers of Samding and Kowajani are paying land revenue to the District Council in Garo Hills even though their land is occupied by the people of Goalpara in collusion with the staffs of the Revenue Department in the Goalpara District. Due to frequent floods, the boundary pillars of these areas have either been washed away or are lying under the silt. This particular incident was brought to the notice of our Government in 1977. So far no action has been taken by the Government in this matter. So far as Mouzas number 7 and number 8 are concerned there has been encroachment by people form Goalpara District in Kakripara area near Mankachar. Similarly, there has been encroachment by people from Goalpara District in the Medhipara and the Rangsai areas of Garo Hills. There are instances in these areas Mr. Speaker, Sir, where the people from Goalpara District have entered our area and have taken away our forest goods and produces claiming that these forests belong to the State of Assam. Mr. Speaker, Sir, even in Mouza number 5 there have been encroachments in the villages of Medhipara, Rangsai and Khaldeng. Mr. Speaker, Sir, the boundary problem that the people are facing in the district of Garo Hills requires immediate attention of the Government. It is a very very serious matter Mr. Speaker, Sir. The Government must intervene immediately otherwise it will be too late. So I urge upon the Government to immediately settle these boundary disputes once and for all. Thank you, Sir.
Shri Maham Singh :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I rise to support the cut motion. This is a matter which we are all vitally interested. We are all concerned to see that the territorial integrity of the State is maintained. Mr. Speaker, Sir, yesterday, the Minister in-charge of Revenue mentioned that it is his sole intention to see that the territorial integrity of the State is maintained. In this connection, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would say that these areas in Garo Hills are areas which are very fertile and very valuable. There are rich paddy fields in these areas. We cannot afford to lose these areas in Garo Hills Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am very glad when yesterday it was announced by the Minister in-charge of Revenue that on Saturday most probably, if I remember aright, they are going to hold a joint conference between the Chief Minister and Revenue Minister of their counterparts viz., the Chief Minister and Revenue Minister of Assam, to consider the question of boundary dispute between the two States of Assam and Meghalaya. Now in this connection, Mr. Speaker, Sir, there have been encroachments not only in Garo Hills but there have been encroachments also in other areas. With regard to Garo Hills, the boundary pillars have been washed away by the floods. There is danger of the non-existence of these boundary pillars. Now, Mr. Speaker, Sir, in the conference when they meet with their counterparts of Assam, I would only appeal to them that they should go there with full understanding with each other. They should go at least with a complete agreement and they should take concerted and united effort in whatever they do. Why I say this Mr. Speaker, Sir, because I feel that the policy that has been followed some time ago by the Government in uprooting the boundary pillars should not be allowed. Now as has been said by the hon. Member who moved the cut motion, many of the boundary pillars in Garo Hills have been washed away. What the Government should do is to plant the boundary pillars again in the correct places and at the correct spots. That is more important than removing away the boundary pillars. Further Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would say that we should not be kept in the dark as to the actual state of affairs. Mr. Speaker, Sir, we are very much confused as to what actually has been happening a few days ago and we in this House, are very much confused and that public are more confused as to what is the actual position. We have received contradictory statements, we have seen also inconsistent orders given by the Government. I hope Mr. Speaker, Sir, this should not repeat, when they will meet on Saturday with their counterparts of Assam. Now Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would say that what happened during the last few days from what we read in the news papers about the removal of the boundary pillars........
Shri M.N. Majaw (Minister, Revenue) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, on a point of order, this cut motion is on the boundary of East and West Garo Hills. The hon. Member from Nongshken is referring to the boundary along the Jaintia Hills portion of Meghalaya.
Mr. Speaker :- Mr. Maham Singh, please confine to the relevant issue.
Shri Maham Singh :- Yes, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I only appeal that the same policy should not be allowed of uprooting the boundary pillars in Garo Hills. This is what I would like to request the Government that they should not go on uprooting the boundary pillars.....
Mr. Speaker :- Are you sure there was contradictions of the statements?
Shri Maham Singh :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, even if there was no contradiction whatsoever the same policy should not be followed, this is my humble request. I would request also that the Government officers should act according to the orders of the Ministers. Further Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would say that the Ministers also should not give any contradictory statements or orders. Why I say so, Mr. Speaker, Sir............
Mr. Speaker :- Will you please specify?
Shri Maham Singh :- I will specify everything. Be patient Sir, you are very patient the Hon'ble Minister is very impatient and I am appealing to him, through you, Mr. Speaker, Sir, to be also patient. What do we read in the news papers, which has created a lot of confusion. Now on the 29th of May in the Assam Tribune it was mentioned the Meghalaya Police has removed a boundary pillar along the Karbi Anglong district of Assam.
Shri M.N. Majaw (Minister, Revenue) :- That does not refer to the East and West Garo Hills which is specifically mentioned in this cut motion in the matter of demarcation of boundaries between East and West Garo Hills Districts with the adjoining Districts of the State of Assam.
Mr. Speaker :- Let the hon. Member refer to these things and if you find that these are not relevant, you need not reply.
Shri Maham Singh :- What I mean to say is that this same policy should not be followed in Garo Hills. These contradictory statements should not be made with the counter parts of Assam otherwise, we will be a laughing stock before them when there is no consistency whatsoever between the statement of the Deputy Chief Minister of the State and the statement of the Minister, Revenue.
Shri M.N. Majaw (Minister, Revenue) :- Which statement?
Shri Maham Singh :- All statements.
Shri M.N. Majaw (Minister, Revenue) :- The hon. Member must specify which statement he means as he is referring to the statements.
Mr. Speaker :- The hon. Member must specify which statement he cannot make sweeping remark.
Shri Maham Singh :- The pillars were removed in pursuance of the orders issued by the Meghalaya Revenue Minister, Shri M.N. Majaw. The pillars were about 9 kilometres within Meghalaya covering the area of 30 sq. kilometers of Khaduli area, the sources said. Now Mr. Speaker, Sir, there was no contradiction whatsoever to this news item which came out in the paper, that is on the 29th and again the other day, Mr. Speaker, Sir, the Hon'ble Minister was congratulated for removing the boundary pillars. As a matter of fact he has mentioned "not me but the Police in this very House". Mr. Speaker, Sir, of course we have got also some information that these boundary pillars were removed after receiving the order.
Mr. Speaker :- I think you have gone a bit far. What are the disputes?
Shri Maham Singh :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, yes, in fact, according to this paper 'MEGHDOOT', that is of the 10th June, 1978.
Mr. Speaker :- Is it that the paper 'MEGHDOOT' contradicted the statement in the Assam Tribune?
Shri Maham Singh :- The reported removal of boundary pillars constructed by Assam along the Jaintia Hills District of Meghalaya 'in pursuance of an order issued earlier by Prof. M.N. Majaw, Meghalaya Revenue Minister on May 27 last has already arrested attention of the leaders of the both the neighbouring States'.
Now the order of the Minister to remove the boundary pillars. The contradiction is we do not know why we find the Minister, Revenue talking in one manner and the Deputy Chief Minister talking in another manner.
Mr. Speaker :- Which other Minister?
Shri Maham Singh :- I will come to that.
The Meghalaya Deputy Chief Minister, Shri Khongwir sent a telegram, to the Assam Chief Minister expressing the confidence that any problems between the two States should be settled amicably through discussions. So, the Minister, Revenue said we removed the pillars while the Deputy Chief Minister said no, we will settle the matter amicably.
Mr. Speaker :- Would you wish that the Deputy Chief Minister will order that the pillars be removed?
Shri S.D. Khongwir (Deputy Chief Minister) :- So that there is no contradiction.
Mr. Speaker :- Please confine yourself to the subject matter of the cut motion.
Shri Maham Singh :- I will confine to that, Mr. Speaker, Sir. All these are important. I want to appeal that they should not commit the same mistake. The Minister of Revenue giving a statement of taking one action, the Deputy Chief Minister stating in another statement of taking a totally different action. Mr. Speaker, Sir, in this paper again now the Police have denied.
Mr. Speaker :- I think we have heard enough of that. Please confine yourself to the boundary dispute.
Shri Maham Singh :- Now over here we find the Ministers, order was not obeyed. Mr. Speaker, Sir, the Government spokesman gave the information that the Police did not take part in dismantling.
Mr. Speaker :- Please confine yourself to the cut motion of the boundary dispute between Meghalaya and Assam so far as Mikir Hills and Jaintia Hills are concerned. Confine yourself to the main part of the cut motion.
Shri Maham Singh :- Yes, I have referred to this, Mr. Speaker, Sir, because I feel they are very relevant. Relevant in this way that it will be a guidance Mr. Speaker, Sir, to the future talks which our Government will have with the Government of Assam. Now in Garo Hills the pillars have washed away Mr. Speaker, Sir. We should not be happy that these pillars have been washed away. Our pillars should be planted as early as possible in the proper places, otherwise there will be encroachment. Removal of the pillars and bringing away the pillars or parts of the pillars to some places and say that yes we have removed the boundary pillars will not help. The need is whether we have planted the boundary pillars in the proper places as the pillars have been washed away by floods. These pillars should be planted in the proper places as soon as possible. Further I would submit that with regard to those areas in Garo Hills in which there is cadastral survey it is very easy to relay on the ground, very easy to find out what is actually the position of the territory between Assam and Meghalaya. So with these few words, once again I appeal that whatever action is being taken it must be consistent, it must be sorted out, it must be firm and we appeal also to the Minister Revenue not to act in the same haphazard, and clumsy manner as was done in the previous cases. Mr. Speaker, Sir, the removed pillars must be planted properly. Planted in their proper places. Removing pillars without planting others at their proper places is a greater danger Mr. Speaker, Sir. There will be more encroachment. I do not know how far the information is true as fragments of the pillars may be lying in his office. What does he mean by this? Is it that the encroachment should be more? So, this policy should not be adopted Mr. Speaker, Sir. That is my humble appeal.
*Shri Akramozamman :- In supporting the cut motion moved by my friend, Shri Manik Das, I am grateful to him for giving a detailed statement about the boundary dispute all along the northern and western parts of Garo Hills. Therefore I do not wish to make any detailed history as it has already been stated by the mover of the cut motions. But because of non settlement of the boundary dispute with Assam, our people mainly agriculturists and fishermen are undergoing a lot of suffering and though they belong to the Scheduled castes yet they are the people of the State of Meghalaya.
Sir, if there was any question of dispute with the District of Khasi or Jaintia Hills then at once the attention of the Government was drawn to it. But when there were so many publications alleging that the Meghalayans have removed the pillars at South Salmara, there were no contradictions from the Government side. Then another thing is about the supply of the map for the entire boundary. I have even taken up the supply of the map for the entire boundary. I have even taken up this matter with the Revenue Department personally because it thought that this map is lying in the Revenue Department or with the Deputy Commissioner's office. This should not have been taken up by the Government without proper consideration that Barbinjiram is the boundary line between Garo Hills and Goalpara which is not correct at all. As stated by the mover, one Mr. Beckett who was sitting in the Circuit House at Dhubri, without taking into consideration any geographical situation of the place, just drew a line showing the boundary of Garo Hills, and so according to his statement so many boundary pillars were fixed up.
Now about the administration of land I know that, when the Zamindars have made an agreement with the Deputy Commissioner of Garo Hills, it was seen that the same portion of land was shown under the administration of Lakhiraj Zamindars again. But when the land was taken over by the Government the administration was given to the District Council. This is also the case with many places in Garo Hills. This is the history of the whole District of Garo Hills. Sir, when it was in the administration of the Zamindars, the Dinaram river was shown to be wholly under the control of the Zamindars. But after the abolition of the Zamindary system some portion of that land was shown and left behind to belong to Goalpara District and that this point of the land is their land. There was dispute, also between the District Council and the Revenue staff of Goalpara District. But I believe Sir, the District Council is not competent to take up the matter directly with the Government of Assam. So they have moved through the Government of Meghalaya to fix up the boundaries. Mr. Speaker, Sir, there is another thing concerning the river Diniram. I do not know how this question was missing after the abolition of zamindary system. This question came up in the District Council when there was a discussion to hand over some portion of this river to Garo Hills District. Now Sir, the fishery portion in that river was administered by the Garo Hills District Council and there was a link with this river Diniram. But one fisherman was taken over by the Police of Goalpara District. All the fishery materials of this fisherman were also taken over by the police. Now this case is pending but no action has been taken from our side. No action was taken to safeguard the Meghalayans from the clutches of the Police of Goalpara District.
Then Sir, flood is coming now and something will be seen there. During flood there will be division of Diniram river from Jingiram river and who can say what will be the face of those people of Garo Hills. When the fisheries were under the administration of the Garo Hills District Council, did the Government exercise any control or did they devise ways and means for the scheduled caste or the fishery community of Garo Hills living in villages consisting of about 1000 families. So what will be their economic condition. I believe that when the Government of Meghalaya will settle this boundary dispute amicable with the Government of Assam, the question of boundary dispute in this particular north eastern part of Garo Hills also will be taken up. This will help the north eastern part of Garo Hills also will be taken up. This will help the fishermen of Garo Hills to get their legitimate right. So also the Garo Hills District Council should be able to exercise its control over this river legitimately. It will get its legitimate right to administer the fishery area in Jinjiram river also. Sir, it has to be noted that even the fishery which has been settled by the S.D.O. of Goalpara district for the fishermen of Gaibanda in Goalpara was shown to be falling within 3 miles inside the territory of Meghalaya. There are many pockets also which come within the boundary of Meghalaya falling within three miles of our territory. But the fisherman of Goalpara are getting all the fishery right. They are fishing in the rivers and selling the fishery and they are getting all the benefit after paying revenue to the Government of Assam. Whereas the fishermen of Garo Hills are suffering like anything. I am afraid when this flood is coming to the rivers there will be no distinction because there is no such silver plated point put on the rivers of Meghalaya. This is mingled up with the waters in the boundaries of Assam. So in those areas I do not think that the interest of the fishermen of Garo Hills will be safeguarded. The Police from the other side have taken over our fisherman and yet no action was taken by our Government. If the Government of Assam have taken so much interest in the fisherman within their boundary jurisdiction, why not our Government take special interest to safeguard the interest of the scheduled caste community of Garo Hills. Why our Government is silent over this matter. When the other day I met the Minister-in-charge somewhere in Shillong, he told me that he has visited Garo Hills and assured me that he will see that the interest of the fishermen of that area is not disturbed. But now I do not get any more information. So I believe it is not only a question of giving benefit to a particular community, i.e., the fisherman community but there is also provision under the Constitution for protecting and safeguarding the interest of the Scheduled Castes. Therefore, I hope this matter of boundary dispute would be settled and the Government should be careful in the matter lest this dispute will remain unsolved in connivance with the land record staff which may cause bitterness between the two neighbouring States. For the greater interest there should be an atmosphere of peace and co-operation between these States. Lastly, I would request the Government that if permanent settlement cannot be made immediately some kind of interim settlement may kindly be made by the Government of Meghalaya in the interest of the fishermen.
*Shri E.K. Mawlong :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to participate in the discussion of the cut motion moved by Mr. Manik Das. Mr. Speaker, Sir, while participating in the cut motion I would like to just to say a few words on the spirit of this cut motion. We do agree that at present there is a boundary dispute between the States of Assam and Meghalaya and the hon. Member who has brought this cut motion has stated that during certain season the pillars have been washed away by water. They must have been washed away quite some seasons back not during the last few weeks. I wonder, Mr. Speaker, Sir, that the previous Government when the hon. member from Nongshken was the Minister in-charge of Revenue, did not look into the question of boundary dispute. He had criticised the demand by our Government and he had specifically mentioned about one incident which came out in the newspaper that the Revenue Minister of Meghalaya has removed the boundary pillar between the Mikir Hills District of Assam and the Jaintia Hills District of our State. He had also mentioned in his speech that this action of the Revenue Minister was complimentary. I also say it is complimentary because if the boundary pillars which were illegally set up by the Assam Government were not removed by our State, this boundary question would not have been solved. That does not mean that for settling the dispute we want to launch a war against the State of Assam. Immediately after that incident, our Deputy Chief Minister had sent a telegram to the Chief Minister of Assam whereby he stated that he wanted to settle the question of boundary dispute mutually. There had been another incident in my constituency in which some of the police personnel from Assam entered into our areas and tried to arrest some people and those people immediately came to us and then we sent a telegram to the Chief Minister of Assam. Mr. Speaker, Sir, now we are happy to note that action was immediately taken and we can see from the news paper that the Chief Minister of Assam even rushed to Shillong to talk over the issue. Had that news in the Assam Tribune been published about removal of the pillars, I do not think the Chief Minister of Assam would have come and tried to meet the Chief Minister of Meghalaya. So from all these things its appears that the boundary dispute between the States of Assam and the Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Deputy Chief Minister and the Revenue Minister of Meghalaya and we hope that this question will be settled. I again congratulate this new Ministry because within this very short period of 2/3 months after their assumption of office they have been trying to solve this problem but the previous Government during the tenure of more than one year did nothing.
(At this stage the Hon'ble Speaker left the Chamber and the Deputy Speaker took the Chair).
Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I hope that this question of boundary dispute would be solved as immediately as possible because we have seen definite measures have been taken by the Government as this is a problem which has been left pending for a long time. With these few words I oppose this cut motion.
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- Minister for Revenue to reply.
*Prof. M.N. Majaw (Minister, Revenue) :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, every action has an equal and opposite reaction and since the hon. Member from Nongshken has though it fit to launch an attack upon me personality and upon the Government in general and showed that there is a difference of opinion and contradictions which he never proved, I feel, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, a fitting reply to what he has said, although it would be somewhat irrelevant, has to be given. A man can give his life for three things, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, i.e., for his religion, for his family and for his land. Throughout the year when we were having another Government here, I wonder whether the erstwhile Revenue Minister was prepared to give life for the defense of the boundary of the State but I had categorically said that I am and all of us are. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am not amazed at the lack of seriousness of the earlier Government, the past and lamented Congress Government because when no less a man than a former Revenue Minister encouraged his own family to go to the Supreme Court to fight the District Council in order to allow non-tribals to buy lands in this State of ours. I got the applications from his own family asking permission for sale of land to Gurung B.P. Das, Dr. Shome, etc... (Interruption). Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I have no intention to malign any one but I would like to show what is the spirit that lies in the heart of a man if a person encouraged to sell tribal lands to non-tribals and fight the District Council even in the Supreme Court. Can you expect such person to protect the lands and the boundary....(Interruptions)....
Shri Maham Singh :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, since he has referred to this, I would only say that I am not the only person selling lands to non-tribals......
Prof. M.N. Majaw (Minister, Revenue) :- It is not a point of order......
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- I think you have enough discussion on this matter and let the hon'ble Minister reply.
Prof. M.N. Majaw (Minister, Revenue) :- That is enough. There is no need to rub salt in the wounds. ( At this stage, the Speaker occupied the Chair). Mr. Speaker, Sir, may I point out that our Government has not been sleeping or has taken, as the hon. mover said, no action in this matter. We not only yesterday enunciated some policies of our Government but we also brought to the notice of this House the areas of difference where irritants have been caused by unilateral actions of the Government of Assam. We had listed seventeen things so far. We may find more later. But Mr. Speaker, Sir, it may be stated that no self respecting State or Government can tolerate illegal and deliberate encroachment upon its scared soil. A reference made by the hon. member from Nongshken to a certain instance in other parts of the boundaries refers to the illegal encroachment into 30 sq. miles of the land in Meghalaya through a deliberate misreading of the maps of the courses of the rivers Umkhrwi and Umsati and no self respecting State or Government can tolerate it particularly when judgment allowing possession may confer the right to that particular land. Now, Mr. Speaker, Sir, the actual confer the right to that particular land. Now, Mr. Speaker, Sir, the actual subject of the cut motion was on the Garo Hills a Goalpara or Assam-Meghalaya boundary. In that, there are two points raised. One refers to the Jinjiram river and the other refers to the entire boundary of the East and West Garo Hills with the district of Assam. This is the inter district boundary which has not become an inter State boundary. It was based on the notification of 16th July, 1875 and in those days, it seems the boundary was demarcated and surveyed by setting up 87 numbers of pillars on the ground all along the boundary at that time prior to the above notification of 1875, But because of the shifting of the course of Jinjiram river which some portions have come to Meghalaya and also because of deliberate encroachment by other State where the pillars have been sifted and because of felling and marking of trades in certain areas like the Rajasimla Reserve Forest, we have areas of difference numbering seven located in the East and West Garo Hills. These are Toporpara area and Halidayganj area, Jinjiram river area, Janjpara-Borsorkana, Medipara, Rongsai, Ketkibari and Dakuakata Rajasimla area. Regarding the Jinjiram river, the first person to inform me of the troubles of the fishermen was the Minister of Transport. Even the hon. member from Phulbari had informed me about the troubles. Immediately, we took action by requesting the Deputy Commissioner to send us an immediate report and get in touch with his counterpart in Goalpara. We took the earliest opportunity to go to Garo Hills and on 30th May, I had a meeting with the Deputy Commissioners of both the district, Administrative Officer, Garo Hills District Council, Secretary, Garo Hills District Council, and Revenue Officer. They gave us a complete report of the boundaries and also the Jinjiram river. It appears that because of the shifting course of the jinjiram river, large portions which belonged to Meghalaya are claimed by Assam I am happy to inform the House that we have succeeded in persuading the Government of Assam to a joint survey and joint demarcation of the Jinji an area. That is something that has been done. The Assam Government in the past had never agreed to joint survey or demarcation. They have agreed to go by boat and travene the entire course of Janjiram river. There have been red cases where people have been arrested by the Government of Assam by the district authorities of Goalpara for fishing in areas claimed by Assam and there have been people arrested in both sides of the boundary. I was assured by the Deputy Commissioner that all arrested persons who were lying in Tura or Dhubri have been released. They have been penalised by the district authorities in Goalpara but no body is in jail. The Deputy Commissioner had also assured us that he would take steps to protect the fishermen. The trouble is you cannot determine until you have to see the boundary. You cannot determine until you have to see the boundary. You cannot determine how far one may come into the middle of the river to fix the pillars and these Mohkuma Parishads informed that they have given the fishery right to the people. These are previously united but because of separation of Meghalaya from Assam they have set up fishery Co-operative Societies and lot of interests have also cropped up. So the Deputy Commissioners on either side are trying to maintain law and order by maintaining the status quo and very shortly the boundary along the Jinjiram river will be drawn up and also other areas where the boundary pillars have been collapsed. Then some pillars are illegally set up by Assam within Meghalaya areas. One case which I came to know recently is in the Rajabala Reserve Forest where one of the old pillars ahs been broken and the Government of Assam claimed that the area belongs to Assam. I have issued instructions to the officers to make a new survey. I told the Deputy Commissioner to inquire into the matter and the S.D.C. has submitted the report and steps towards settlement have been devised. But I may inform the House that we are not sleeping at all. In fact, we took certain action, we have done something and we intend to carry on the discussion with the Assam Government as we have told the House that the Chief Minister, the Deputy Chief Minister and I will meet the Chief Minister and the Law and Revenue Minister of Assam on the 24th at 6 p.m at Khanapara and we are taking the officers with us. We are going to level down that illegal encroachment and irritants to the people be stopped immediately and bilateral demarcation of the boundary with Assam be drawn up and we are confident, as the Deputy Chief Minister had already written to the Chief Minister of Assam, that we will find an amicable settlement of his matter.
Shri W.A. Sangma : Mr. Speaker, Sir, on a point of information, I would like to know what is the definite policy of the present Government with regard to the boundary dispute. Whether we shall go in for the mutual and agreeable solution of the problem or we shall encourage taking the law into our own hands. I put this question Mr. Speaker, Sir, because from the newspapers there was a statement with regard to the boundary dispute between the Karbi-Anglong District and Jaintia Hills that certain pillars were being removed forcibly. I do not know who are the agencies. Somebody says that it was done by the Minister himself. Another information available was that it was done by the Police. Another information available was that it was done by the public.
(A voice : By the volunteers of the PDIC).
I would like to be informed of the correct position about it. Whether we should try to settle the boundary dispute through amicable settlement or we should endeavour for the physical removal of the boundary pillars. I would like to be informed about that particular incident about the boundary of Karbi-Anglong in Jaintia Hills. I would like to know what is the actual position.
Mr. Speaker :- That is outside the point.
Shri W.A. Sangma :- But we have every right to know the actual position. I would like to be informed about the policy of the Government. Whether we should go for physical removal of the pillars or we should devise ways and means to come to an amicable settlement.
Prof. M.N. Majaw (Minister, Revenue etc.) :- As far as the approach is concerned, we have already said that we are having a meeting of the Chief Minister of Assam with the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister and we will lay down the conditions first of all that all encroachments should be vacated and will tell them that the documents in our position are such that we can prove to the Government of Assam that they have misread the map. I am happy to know that the Congress Government is no longer there as it is no longer here. We will demand of the Government of Assam to correct their map and remove encroachment from Meghalaya and also we will demand that all these irritants should be removed. If we do not succeed, then about the next step, we will discuss.
Shri S.D. Khongwir (Deputy Chief Minister) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, in so far as the policy on the settlement of the boundary between the two States of Meghalaya and Assam is concerned I think we have made it very clear in this House itself through the Governor's Address as to how we should follow in the settlement of the boundary between the two States.
Shri Akramozamman :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, the Minister in-charge of Revenue has given an information that no unilateral decision has been arrived at and that fixing of the boundary pillars should not be allowed. But what is the position with regard to the unilateral settlement of the fishery of Jinjiram.
Shri M.N. Majaw (Minister, Revenue etc.) :- I have made it very clear that we will very soon take up the matter with the Government of Assam.
Shri Akramozamman :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, one important point on the settlement of the fishery of Jinjiram. Fishermen from Assam come and fish in the river Jinjiram of Meghalaya and our fishermen are not getting the right to fish in this river. It is a daily affair and in that respect, there was not a single case since this Government came to power that a the administration was more concerned about it than the previous one.
Shri W.A. Sangma :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, here is one reply from the Minister. The course of the Jinjiram river has changed. Therefore, there is a dispute. It is yet to be settled. But what is the actual boundary when the course of the river has changed?
Mr. Speaker :- I think that is very difficult on the part of the Minister to reply.
Shri W.A. Sangma :- Well, Mr. Speaker, Sir, immediate steps should be taken by the Government.
Shri M.N. Majaw (Minister, Revenue etc.) :- The main thing with which we are concerned much is the boundary with the State of Assam and the second point is we will share the revenue from this fishery. This will be settled in due time. So may I ask the hon. mover to withdraw his cut motion?
Shri Manik Das :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, since the Hon'ble Revenue Minister has assured this august House for a joint demarcation of boundary between Assam and Meghalaya and projection of our fishermen, I withdraw the cut motion.
Mr. Speaker :- Has the hon. Member leave of the House to withdraw his cut motion?
( Voices - Yes ).
The cut motion is with leave of the House withdrawn.
Now, Mr. Joshi to move his cut motion.
Shri D.N. Joshi :- I beg to move that the total position of Rs.41,68,000 under Grant No. 6, Major head "229-Land Revenue" at page 32 of the Budget be reduced to Re.1, i.e. the amount of the whole grant of Rs.41,68,.000 do stand reduced to Re. 1.
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved.
*Shri D.N. Joshi :- Ever since our State came into being the people in the State irrespective of their being in different linguistic groups were supposed to be Meghalayans and on the floor of the Assembly and even on the floor of the Provisional Assembly of Meghalaya, the Leader of the House has given assurance that no injustice in any form will be meted out to the linguistic minorities living in Meghalaya. The people belonging to the different non-tribal groups as they are called now have adopted Meghalaya as their hearth and home. No injustice in any form whatsoever should be meted out to them. In order to protect the tribal interests as well as the non-tribal interests the Meghalaya Land Transfer Regulation Act, 1971 was passed with certain provisions which, in my humble opinion, was against the interest of the non-tribal minorities living in the State. I have raised certain objections on the floor of the Assembly in 1972 when I was first elected to this august House and the Leader of the House and the then Revenue Minister were kind enough to gibe assurance that no injustice in the matter of land transfer will be meted out to the non-tribal Meghalayans. Provisions were made and shown to me to the effect that transfer of land from a tribal to a tribal and from a non-tribal to a non-tribal can be done only with conditions that a competent authority has to give permission after due process. Subsequently in 1977 when the then Government saw that there were elements in the society who were out to make undue in road into the rights and privileges of the tribal population certain provisions were sought to be incorporated in the Act in order to prevent this scheme of the unscrupulous people from taking advantage of the existing law. Therefore in order to enable the Government to protect the tribal interest from such elements a provision was accepted to restrict land transfer from a tribal to a non-tribal and from a non-tribal to a non-tribal and also in case such unscrupulous elements make onslaught on the unprotected tribals and for guarding their lands a reasonable restriction was sought to be make and the then Government made an enactment and a proviso was added to the Land Transfer Act with the clear understanding that no unreasonable restriction shall be made in the matter of land transfer from a non tribal to a non tribal Meghalayan and from a tribal to a tribal Meghalayan. But since this Government came to power, without any amount of reasonableness, this Government which was correctly termed as a colliding Government by a friend of mine though it pretends to put a blanket ban on the transfer of land from a tribal to a non-tribal and from a non-tribal to a non-tribal and the provisions of the Act are such that even mutations and deeds from a father to a daughter or to a son comes within the purview of the words land transfer. Even the rights and inheritance also have been taken away by this blanket ban which was supposed to be imposed. If the Government was satisfied that such bans in certain areas were necessary, how on earth can one imagine that this Government thinks it reasonable to impose a blanket ban on all modes of land transfers from a non-tribal to a non-tribal Meghalayan. I am a non-tribal Meghalayan but I am sitting here as an hon. Member duly elected by the electorate. None of the Meghalayans can deny my right to claim myself as a Meghalayan. Hundred and thousand of these non tribal Meghalayans are there who are contributing their mite in the matter of all-round development of our State and who are not lagging behind in shedding their blood even for the protection of our rights and privileges irrespective of all communities to which they belong. We are one for the development of this State of Meghalaya, to bring about an all- round development of our State, to make it a patch of beauty in the map of India. But Sir, I say it is a black Act of the Government. The provision of the Land Transfer Act has imposed a blanket ban on land transfer which is not at all reasonable. It cuts at the very fundamental rights of the citizens living in Meghalaya. I have got three sons, I have got a small house and in course of time the number of my family members could have increased and it will not even contain the children that will come forth from one of my children. What will happen to my other two sons and daughter who require housed of their own? Only because they are non-tribals they will not be allowed to have a small hour or small plot of land in Meghalaya. Is it reasonable after the father died that his sons or daughters cannot inherit the properties and in order to inherit the property, one has to go to the competent authority to ask for permission for mutation according to this mode of transfer? Only yesterday, I have sought clarification from one officer dealing with transfer matters. He said " Uptil now well, he had not been supplied with instructions as to whether he is empowered to allow even mutation". So Sir, I fail to understand and how this Government which claims to be a popular Government, how this Government which had been elected here on the popular will could claim that this Act is either reasonable or is within the framework of the fundamental rights of a citizen as embodied in the Constitution of India. Therefore, Sir, I demand of this Government through you, that in order to bring in normal justice, to withdraw forthwith this blanket ban on land transfer covering the entire two districts of Jaintia Hills and Garo Hills, West Khasi Hills, East Khasi Hills barring a few small important wards in Shillong, i.e., the European Ward, Police Bazar Ward, and the Cantonment. What will be the fate of the non-tribal Meghalayans who are in Mawkhar, Rilbong, Laban, Pynthorumkhrah and Laitumkhrah? If they have got to live in compact family for all times together in a small house no matter whether they get children, no matter whether they get grand-children, they must compel a man to write a history, the same as that black Act of Calcutta where several thousand of people were living in a small roof. Let us not have that posterity here. This Government constituted by three different political parties passed an Act, an order which goes against the fundamental right of the citizen. With these few words, Sir, I want and I propose that the grant should be reduced to Re.1. Thank you.
Shri B.K. Roy :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I rise to support the cut motion moved by the hon. Member from Mawprem. In this connection, Mr. Speaker, Sir, the feasibility, expediency or the purpose of this drastic action is to be judged, it is immaterial when the bill was originally passed or contemplated. I am not going to debate in this context as to who are the Meghalayans but it is to be seen what are the uses and purposes of this blanket ban on transfer of land. Suddenly, this Government immediately after taking office, found it that the interest of the people belonging to the scheduled tribes in peril and their aspiration is bound to suffer as this Government feels that there has been an influx from outside. Is it this expediency which compelled the Government to come with Black Act so very hurriedly and in such a manner as to make a blanket ban on transfer of land from a tribal to a non-tribal or from a non-tribal to a non-tribal? Mr. Speaker, Sir, the economic interest of the scheduled tribes has been safeguarded by the provision in the Sixth Schedule and many other article of the Constitution. After the State's re-organisation, if I am correct from the statistics that I have, land particularly in Shillong, not to speak of other two districts, had been sold much more by non tribals to tribals than by tribals to non-tribals. As a glaring instance in Motinagar or Lachumiere which were predominantly inhabited by the people from Plains many properties were sold after the shifting of Assam's Capital and most of them were purchased by the tribal brothers. So Sir, no question of influx or purchase of land by a big number of non tribals can arise. Mr. Speaker, Sir, this question of tribal interest has been safeguarded by Article 3 of the Sixth Schedule which gives the District Council a power to make laws with respect to the allotment, occupation and use, preserve any land purposes which are likely to promote the interest of the inhabitants of any village or town. Article 10 of the Sixth Schedule, Mr. Speaker, Sir, gives the District Council powers to make regulations by which they may prescribe that "No person who is not a member of the Scheduled Tribes and resident in the district shall carry on wholesale or retail. business in any commodity unless under a license issued in that behalf by the District Council". What I mean to say, Mr. Speaker, Sir, is that whoever the non-tribal may be, he is an Indian who has come to this State and made his hearth and home even before the advent of the State or they have come and settled here or made a living here under due provisions of the District Council. These people have come here and settled here not by any illegal means. Yet, overnight with the stroke of a pen a man like me has been debarred to transfer my land even to my offspring's. It directly goes to that extent that I am asked to remain floating here so long as I am alive and let my progeny seek their home somewhere else. Otherwise what can be the meaning and purpose of bringing in this Act in this way. I fully endorse priority rights of the tribals, let that be the policy, we are wedded to it. But why this sort of deprivation to one section of people? Why those, irrespective of how many generations they have been living over here, be asked to vacate and go somewhere else? If this was the intention of the Constitution of India which, I am sure, is not, Mr. Speaker, Sir, then I could imagine that this unfortunate people should perish. They are the minorities. Is that a curse? Where is justice a man expects from a man if the Act comes through. I will repeat again, the Act is directly in conflict with the most sacred part of our Constitution pertaining to the Fundamental Rights and that is Article 19(i) (d) (e) and (f), which guarantee to all citizens the right to move freely throughout the territory of India and to reside and settle in any part of any territory in India and to acquire and dispose of property. The Government of Meghalaya cannot justify its action by taking away that sacred right of a man which does not in any way promote the economic interest of the tribal people. Even those people who want to be identified as Meghalayans in all respect, you cannot debar them with an Act to own their property or sell their property. I am coming to the end of my speech, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I won't take much time.
Then if it is the question of fundamental rights, the constitutional question now is which is the appropriate State to pass this Act. This is a valid question even after the President's assent. I have got every right to say that this House is not the competent authority to go against any fundamental right which is given by the Constitution. This Act grossly violates the fundamental rights of a person. Is it the Centre or the State which is to determine this vital question? Ii is the Parliament which can only restrict by an Act the movement of a set of people. It is not within the State law because it goes against the fundamental rights as laid down in the Constitution of India. Mr. Speaker, Sir, the history of this State, especially of Shillong is different from the history of various other places. Shillong was the capital of the Joint East Bengal and Assam ever since 1864 and by the proclamation in 1874. After that it was the capital of erstwhile Assam of which Sylhet was a very very important component in population and in various other respects. They came here not with any intention but to man the offices both of the Centre and the State and so they remained here, worked here and retired here where they have made their hearths and home. Now in the Reorganisation Act, 1969, nothing is laid down that this section of the people will be depleted of their fundamental rights to own property. Various provisions under the Constitution are there so that the interest of the tribal people be retained, maintained and promoted. That does not mean that some other people should be debarred of their basic rights. If I may remind the House, the Finance Minister had stated yesterday that while promoting the interest of the tribal people, we are not leveling down the other sections of the people in the State. If this is the contention to which we are fully wedded Mr. Speaker, Sir, then is this way to safeguard the legitimate interest of the minorities? With these words I support the cut motion.
Shri M.N. Majaw (Minister, Revenue etc.) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I had thought that the hon. Mover of this cut motion would no, come forward again with the same subject as the one we dealt with yesterday. But he thought fit to move the cut motion, and I think it fit to give a reply to my hon. friends. In the first place I must say that it is not the intention of the Government in any way to exterminate the non-tribals or in anyway to destroy their interests. But I will deal with legal and Constitutional matters and I shall quote from the Constitution itself to which my hon. friends have referred. The Constitution has specific provisions in this matter. The hon. member from Pynthorumkhrah referred to Article 19, the right of freedom. He has rightly pointed out Clause I. As such '(1) All citizens shall have the right-
(a) to freedom of
speech and expression;
(b) to assemble peace by and without arms.
(c) to form associations or unions;
(d) to move freely throughout the territory of India;
(e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India;
(f) to acquire, hold and dispose of property;
Now, Mr. Speaker,
Sir, he should have come down further to Clause 5 which says specifically.
"Nothing in Sub-clause (d) of the said clause shall affect the operation of
any existing law -
- I repeat.
"Nothing in Sub-clauses (d), (e) and (f) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevents the State from making any law imposing, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of any of the rights conferred by the said sub-clauses either in the interest of the general public or for the protection of the interest of any Scheduled Tribes". Even the right to move freely throughout India, to reside and settle in any part of India to acquire, hold and dispose of property may be subject or reasonable restrictions.
Now Mr. Speaker, Sir, the crux of the matter is what are "reasonable restrictions"? But I beg to submit that no less a person than the President of India in all his reasonableness gave his assent to this amendment, which they may congress friends - could have feely opposed when the great Congress monolithic party was ruling in this State as elsewhere in the country. It is they who have brought this proviso to section 3, which reads as follows; "Provided that the Government of Meghalaya, if it is satisfied, may from time to time, by notification prohibit transfer of land within such area or areas as may be specified in the notification, and thereupon the competent authority shall not sanction any such transfer of land under a provision of this Act itself in such area or areas". Now I submit, in the first place, that when the notification came out in the first week of this month, that is 7th June, 1978 it was only in consonance with the proviso which states "Provided that the Government of Meghalaya if it is satisfied, may from time to time", this is the first time, "buy a notification" this is a notification, "prohibit transfer of land within such area or areas". I do not think the hon., member from Pynthorumkhrah nor from Mawprem thinks that the East Khasi Hills is not an area, or the West Khasi Hills is not an area or the Jaintia Hills is not an area. Certainly, they are areas. This proviso says within such area or areas as may be specified in the notification. It has been so specified in the Government's notification. We have only carried out and done justice to an excellent amendment brought to this House by the Congress Party. Certainly, the President has now given us this power in all his wisdom and reasonableness. This amendment was assented to by the President of India, Shri Sanjiva Reddy. So, I do not think the hon. members from Mawprem, Pynthorumkhrah and Phulbari make themselves superior to the President, or claim that the President is "unreasonable" I am some how amused by the expression used by these friends - "a Black Act" - the same use by the Editor or "Young India" Prof. Kapila Chatterjee. He ahs also used the words the 'Black Act'. If the hon. members peruse that particular article in a certain issue of Young India, they will find what treacherous words have been uttered against the President of India, against the Government of India, where the Government of India has been called a group of Ministers who are lunatics, criminals, etc. I am surprised that such great M.L.As of this House should make a leader of this gentleman and came out with the same words: 'Black Act' used by the "Young India". Do they also mean to say that the Government of India is composed of lunatics and criminals? (Interruptions............). Mr. Speaker, Sir, they have used this word and I think they must be confronted with the reality that this is basically a tribal State where this land was bought with the blood of our fore fathers, who came to these hills thousands of years ago, enduring calamities and pestilences and other travails that our fore-fathers had to bear for taking possession of this land. I think that our friends who are claiming themselves to be a minority, are really a majority. I had thought they would come in a humble way to discuss this Act., but instead they are belligerent, in a terrible way calling it the 'Black Act. Mr. Speaker, Sir, ( Bell rang ).
Shri Akramozamman :- We protest against the way the Hon'ble Minister gives his reply. (Opposition members walked out).
Shri M.N. Majaw :- Now, as I had said earlier, this amendment was brought by the very members who did not oppose it at that time because it was they who moved it and got it passed. This is not of recent origin. Perhaps they now want to remove or change this proviso. Article 46 very clearly states that "the State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interest of the weaker sections of the people, and in particular of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation". It was decided by the then Congress Government that alienation of land from the tribal to the non-tribal or from the non-tribal to the non tribal constituted a form of exploitation, economic exploitation of the tribal people. It was in their entire wisdom that they had brought forward this proviso. They have propose it in their entire wisdom. They have passed it by issuing a whip to each hon. Member of their party who accepted, submitted and obeyed the whip. Member of their party who accepted, submitted and obeyed the whip. But now it is the height of injustice, as you might say, when they attack us and say that we are passing a black Act. There is no black Act. The Act was there fully with the proviso brought in by them in their own wisdom. Had we thought it otherwise Mr. Speaker, Sir, we would have moved further amendments. May I inform the House that I have here a model Bill sent us by the Union Home Ministry. They have a division called the Research and Policy Division. They had sent us a model Act earlier. May I inform the House-unfortunately my friends in the Congress could not face the truth this proviso of the Act prevents any alienation of land with or without possession, lease, sale, gift, exchange or any other dealing with immovable property". Then it says under Section 3. "Notwithstanding anything contained in any enactment, rule or law in force in the Scheduled areas any transfer of immovable property situated in the Scheduled areas by a person, whether or not such person is a member of a Scheduled Tribe shall be absolutely null and void unless such transfer is made in favour of a person, who is a member of a Scheduled Tribe". These are clear exclusive, absolute and categorical words. It says, I repeat "Notwithstanding anything contained in any enactment, rule or law in force in the Scheduled areas, any transfer of immovable property situated in the Scheduled areas by a persons, whether or not such a person is a member belonging of a Scheduled Tribe, shall be absolutely null and void, unless such transfer is made in favour of a person who is a member of a Scheduled Tribe". Then Sub-section (b) reads "Notwithstanding anything contained in any enactment, any transfer of immovable property belonging to a member of the Scheduled Tribe shall be absolutely null and void unless such transfer is made in favour of a person who is a member of the Scheduled Tribe." Now may we point out Mr. Speaker, Sir, that these Scheduled areas in the State cover the entire State except two or three wards viz - the Police Bazar, Cantonment area and European Ward including Jail Road. We could have easily brought in any enactment to impose a complete blanket ban excluding these three Wards. But we do not want that. We know that our poor non-tribal brethren will suffer and so we have not said anything also about the Garo Hills. We have done it, as the proviso says "from time to time". So for the first time, in the first place, it was done only for the East and West Khasi Hills Districts and Jaintia Hills District. And we should not look upon the Districts in their separate entity. The whole State is one entity. So if the blanket ban is not imposed upon the entire State, now can they call it a black Act. It only means that in their poverty their blankets are so full of holes. The use of these words is really something that I do not understand. Then regarding inheritance, there is a ban of land transfer from a living person to a living person. But inheritance, after the death of the predecessors, does not fall under this. Mr. Speaker, Sir, we would like to say that ours is a very small community and yet the majority communities from almost the whole of India have come to this paradise of ours and settled down. They live here regardless of what will be our fate. We have around us an example of Tripura, where the alienation of land has led to exploitation of the economic interests of the tribal people there. And now it is only too late perhaps for them to retrieve their lost lands. But we the Khasi, Garo, and Jaintia people and other tribals of the State will have no place to go to while the Bengalis have got Bengal, the Biharis Bihar, the Nepalis Nepal and the Punjabis Punjab, we the Khasi, Jaintia and Garos and other tribals have no place to got. Ours is a small community which forms this multi-coloured pattern of tapestry that is India. We must preserve our tribal communities, and so the founding fathers have incorporated Articles in the Constitution to prevent exploitation of our people.
The President of India has given his assent to this Bill. We have now thought it proper to notify this. Mr. Speaker, Sir, there are places where this notification can be challenged. But we have done it in our wisdom as the President of India had done it in his own wisdom.
Mr. Speaker :- Since the hon. Mover is no more in his seat, may I put the question before the House. The question is that a sum not exceeding Rs.41,68,000 including the sums already voted on account for the relevant services be granted to the Minister in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending the 31st March, 1979 for the administration of the heads '229- Land Revenue, 288- Social Security and Welfare -B-II - Relief and Rehabilitation of Displaced Persons, 289- Relief on Account of Natural Calamities, 295- Other Social and Community Services. 304- Other General Economic Services, - II- Land Ceilings, 688- Loans for Social Security and Welfare - III - Welfare of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes, 695- Loans for Other Social and Community Services and 705- Loans for Agriculture".
( The motion was carried and the demand was passed ).
Now, I call upon the Minister in-charge of Stamps and Registration to move Grant No.7.
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh (Minister i/c. Stamps and Registration) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, on the recommendation of the Governor I beg to move that a sum not exceeding Rs.72,000 including the sums already voted on account for the relevant services be granted to the Minister in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending the 31st March, 1979 for the administration of the head "230- Stamps and Registration".
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. Since there is no cut motion, I put the question before the House. The question is that a sum not exceeding Rs.72,000 including the sums already voted on account for the relevant services be granted to the Minister in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending the 31st March, 1979 for the administration of the head "230- Stamps and Registration".
( The motion was carried and the Grant was passed).
Now will the Minister in-charge of Excise move Grant No. 8 ?
Shri Humphrey Hadem (Minister, Excise) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, on the recommendation of the Governor I beg to move that a sum not exceeding Rs.8,89,000 including the sums already voted on account for the relevant services be granted to the Minister in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending the 31st March, 1979 for the administration of the head "239- State Excise".
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. Since there is no cut motion, I put the main question before the House. The question is that a sum not exceeding Rs.8,89,000 including the sums already voted on account for the relevant services be granted to the Minister in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending the 31st March, 1979 for the administration of the head "232- State Excise".
(The motion was carried and the demand was passed).
Deputy Chief Minister to move Grant No. 9.
Shri Stanlington D. Khongwir (Deputy Chief Minister) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, on the recommendation of the Governor I beg to move that a sum not exceeding Rs.8,05,000 including the sums already voted on account for the relevant services be granted to the Minister in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending the 31st March, 1979 for the administration of the head "240- Sales Tax and 245- I- Other Taxes and Duties on Commodities and Services".
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. Since there is no cut motion, I put the main question before the House. The question is that a sum not exceeding Rs.8,05,000 including the sums already voted on account for the relevant services be granted to the Minister in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending the 31st March, 1979 for the administration of the head "245-I-Other Taxes and Duties on Commodities and Services".
(The motion was carried and the demand was passed).
Minister in-charge of Transport to move Grant No. 10.
Shri Bronson W. Momin (Minister, Transport) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, on the recommendation of the Governor I beg to move that a sum not exceeding Rs.37,52,000 including the sums already voted on account for the relevant services be granted to the Minister in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending the 31st March, 1979 for the administration of the head "241- Taxes on Vehicles, 265- Other Administrative Services- II- Motor Garages etc. 338- Roads and Water Transport Services and 538- Capital Outlay on Road and Water Transport Services".
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. Since there is no cut motion, I put the main question before the House. The question is that a sum not exceeding Rs.37,52,000 including the sums already voted on account for the relevant services be granted to the Minister in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending the 31st March, 1979 for the administration of the head "241- Taxes on Vehicles, 265- Other Administrative Services- II- Motor Garages etc. 338- Roads and Water Transport Services and 538- Capital Outlay on Road and Water Transport Services".
(The motion was carried and the demand was passed).
Since there is no other business for the day, the House stands adjourned till 9.30 A.M. tomorrow, the 22nd June, 1978.
|Dated : Shillong,||
|the 21st June, 1978.||
Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.