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Former SC judge warns against misinterpreting Article 371A

Correspondent Kohima, Nov 14 (NPN)
Published on 14 Nov. 2017 11:13 PM IST
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Former Chief Justice of Jammu & Kashmir High Court and former Judge of Supreme Court HK Sema has clarified that no part of Article 371A was against women’s reservation. He was speaking as a guest of honour at the training for trainers on women’s rights and peace held at SIRD Auditorium here on Tuesday. 
The programme was organised by the Department of English of Nagaland University, in association with the Naga Mothers’ Association and Human Rights Law Network.
Speaking on the topic “Article 371A and Women Reservation - the Naga debate,” Sema said misinterpretation of Article 371A had become a huge threat to the Naga society, even as he clarified that no part of Article 371A was against women reservation and added that since men and women are not equal, the later require reservation.
The legal luminary added that Article 371A(1)(a) stated that no Act of parliament would apply in Nagaland in respect of religious or social practices of the Nags, Naga customary law and procedure unless the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland by a resolution so decides. 
He cautioned the Naga society that if people continued to misinterpret Article 371A and misused it, then it would become like personal laws of the Muslim and in which Supreme Court had to intervene in the matter of triple talaq to give rights to women. He said in a democratic country like India, no authority was above the constitutional law. The former judge said he was ready to explain in detail Article 371 (A) and women reservation on a proper platform, provided he was given enough time.
He rued that corruption had pulled down the Naga society and brought development activities to a standstill in the State. 
Stating that faulty election process was the root cause of corruption, he urged the intelligentsia to do something to change it. 
Referring to Mizo youth and mothers’ association movements to clean up the election process, Sema said Naga society too could change. He warned that money power during elections would rot the society. 
He also lauded the efforts of NBCC to clean the electoral system. 
Sema encouraged the gathering to raise voice against the wrongdoing in the society and stated that “silence is the enemy of democracy”. 
Lamenting the opposition-less government in the State, he said without it no government could function properly “as in a democratic nation like ours there will be no serious deliberation on important issues”. He urged the participants to be the voice of the voiceless and speechless.
Dr Rosemary Dzuvichu, one of the resource persons on the topic “Women’s Rights and Equality - the Naga Context”, said women’s right is at of the heart of human rights. 
Lamenting the women reservation issue in urban local bodies, she said the Naga society was behaving in the manner the Western societies had behaved one-and-a-half century ago, “though we are living in the 21st century”.
She said in Naga society women had no rights in the decision-making process though it was widely proclaimed that Naga society treat its women equally.
On Article 371(A) and women reservation issue, Dzuvichu reminded the audience that law was interpreted by male and female lawyers in different manner. While respecting law of the land, she appealed to everyone to take a bold stand to ensure rights to Naga women as guaranteed by the Constitution of India. She also shared various examples of how Naga women were denied their rights.
Social activist Niketu Iralu spoke on “Women and peace”, Japfii Christian College Principal Dr Visakhono Hibo spoke on “Sexual harassment at workplace”, advocate Kezhosano Kikhi spoke on “Women’s reproductive and health rights” and clinical psychologist Lovika spoke on “Women and mental health”.
While Dr Jano Sekhose of Nagaland University chaired the programme, Nagaland University Pro Vice Chancellor Prof RC Gupta delivered the welcome address. Nagaland University’s Prof N Das Nagaland offered the vote of thanks.
The programme was attended by hundreds of women leaders from various tribes, well wishers, social activists, scholars, students and others.

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