Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Commission of inquiry on wokha church dispute

(From previous issue)
The Hon’ble Supreme Court further held that the Commission of Inquiry had nothing to obstruct or interfere with the lawful powers of the courts by acting bona fide and by discharging statutory functions under the Commission of Inquiry Act. As per the provisions of the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952, a Commission of Inquiry can only be appointed by the House of the People (Lok Sabha) and State Legislative Assembly; and, the State legislature can appoint such Commission to inquire on any matter relatable to only List II or List III of Schedule VII of the Constitution of India. The Act prescribes that only matters of public importance must be inquired into by such commission, and the present issue such as the LBCA crisis falls within the category of ‘Public Order’ enumerated in entry 1 of List III of Schedule VII. In a broader sense, the LBCA crisis is a matter of public importance because the crisis involves tensions within a religious organization that affects the whole population of the Wokha district; there is a continuous challenge to peace and safety within the community which prejudicially affects or threaten to affect the public well-being; the need for continuous supervision of executive magistrate and involvement of armed personnel for peace and security to contain tensions that arise time to time within the LBCA headquarters; the continuous wastage of precious government time and State resources, etc.
The importance and findings of a commission inquiry have been explained by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Shri. Ram Krishna Dalmia vs. Justice S.R. Tendulkar & ors, where it observed, “the whole purpose of setting up a Commission of Inquiry consisting of experts will be frustrated and the elaborate process of inquiry will be deprived of its utility if the opinion and advice of the expert body as to the measures the situation disclosed calls for cannot be placed before the government for consideration notwithstanding that doing so cannot be to the prejudice of anybody because it has no force of its own. In our view, the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry are of great importance to the Government in order to enable it to make up its mind as to what legislative and administrative measures should be adopted to eradicate the evil found or to implement the beneficial objects it has in view.”
To conclude on the very fact that religious issues are a matter of divine and sentimental affair that if left unresolved could escalate into a volatile situation with time, and in the interest of justice and the need to restore public order within the Lotha community as a whole and the church in particular, and having exhausted all possible means to resolve the issue in question, therefore, as a measure of last resort it is absolutely felt necessary for the State Government to appoint a Commission of Inquiry to work within a specific timeframe, and upon submission of the inquiry report, the government thereby adopt and enforce the recommendations in letter and spirit, so that public order, peace and tranquillity in the Lotha community is once again restored and that the Church bells from Vankosung, the headquarters of the LBCA, may once again ring freely throughout Wokha reassuring a new ray of faith, hope, and love among the people.
N. Zubemo Lotha, LLM.
Gauhati High Court,
Guwahati, Assam.


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