29 November 2022
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On September 7, the Meghalaya cabinet approved the implementation of the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Code of Civil Procedure in tribal areas of the state.

This has caused alarm as such areas are covered by protections under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. The provision enables decentralised governance and a large degree of autonomy in the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura. Customary laws prevail in areas under the Sixth Schedule.

Meghalaya has three autonomous district councils with elected representatives set up under the Sixth Schedule – one each in the Khasi, Garo and Jaintia Hills. These bodies are empowered to set up district council courts which may settle a range of disputes under customary laws.

Autonomous district councils as well as civil society bodies objected to the government’s notification as they feared it would “dilute the power of district council courts”

“This is a Constitutional matter and we derive power from the Constitution,” said Titosstarwell Chyne, chief executive member – or head – of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council. “They [the state government] can’t take away our power. Paragraphs 4 and 5 under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution say that the imposition of CrPC and CPC should be excluded from tribal areas.”

On September…

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Abdul Gh Lone