Meghalaya govt to empower tribal chiefs and traditional bodies

 The Meghalaya government will come up with an alternative draft bill to empower the tribal chiefs and their traditional bodies whose powers and functions were clipped by a High Court ruling last year, the state cabinet decided today.

PTI| Last Updated: Aug 31, 2015, 19:00 PM IST

Shillong: The Meghalaya government will come up with an alternative draft bill to empower the tribal chiefs and their traditional bodies whose powers and functions were clipped by a High Court ruling last year, the state cabinet decided today.

"We have directed the department concerned to prepare an alternative draft bill which should address the concerns as far as few sections (of the Ordinance) which give lots of scope for different format of interpretations," Chief Minister Mukul Sangma told newsmen after the cabinet meeting here.

"The draft bill will be placed before a forum of political parties involving their engagement then decide for further proceeding with any legislative measure to replace the Ordinance," he said.

The Meghalaya Local Administration (Empowerment of Traditional Institutions, Traditional Bodies, Headmen in Governance and Public Delivery System) Ordinance, 2015 was approved by the cabinet in May to put an end to the current stalemate arising out of the last year's High Court ruling.

The meeting with political parties proposed to be held on next Tuesday will also discuss on issues related to whether to allow the ordinance to have its natural death and look for other bills which has been passed by the respective Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) pending their assent.

Admitting flaws in the Ordinance, the chief minister said, "the overall stand of the government is that we feel that the Ordinance in its present form do have certain provisions which give scope for different interpretation and therefore can be exploited which can go against its actual objective."

The state government also took cognizance that the Village Administration Bills passed by the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) and Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council (JHADC) were pending for assent of the Governor and therefore had not become an Act, he said.

"Therefore, in absence of any such law whether it is appropriate for the government to have any legislative mandate to empower and involve traditional bodies. These we would like to discuss before we decide to bring for the consideration of the legislative Assembly in the forthcoming session next month," he said.

Meanwhile, the state cabinet also approved the amendment to the Meghalaya Value Added Tax (VAT) Act to effectively realise revenue from sale of coal and limestone to private cement factories and other industries.

"We have approved the amendment to the section 106 of the MVAT, Act, which is in relation to the mechanism for realisation of MVAT from various companies both private and public limited companies which are engaged in procurement and purchase," the chief minister said.