Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Explained: Behind the 20-year delay in Nagaland’s Urban Local Body Elections


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 371A; Nagaland;

Mains level: State Elections; Nagaland; Urban Local Bodies;

Why in the News?

For the first time (since 2004), Nagaland is scheduled to conduct Urban Local Body elections.


  • The state cabinet approved on April 26 for conducting Urban Local Body polls for Nagaland’s 3 Municipal Councils and 36 Town Councils.
  • Further, the State Election Commission (SEC) released the election schedule, with voting slated for June 26.

BACK2BASICS: Constitutional Provisions for Urban Local Body Elections:

    • The 74th Constitutional Amendment bars the interference by courts in the electoral matters of municipalities.
      • Article 243U mandates a five-year tenure for urban local governments.
    • The superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of the electoral rolls for, and the conduct of, all elections to the panchayats and municipalities shall be vested in the State Election Commission (SEC).
  • Article 371 (A)- It makes the special provisions for Nagaland in such a way that the Acts of Parliament would not apply to Nagaland unless the State Legislature Assembly so decides especially in terms of the Religious or social practices of the Naga.

What does the Janaagraha Survey say about the status of Municipal Elections in India?

  • According to the annual survey made by Janaagraha (a non-profit institution), over 1,400 municipalities in India did not have elected councils in place as of September 2021.
  • According to the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG), between 2015 and 2021, over 1,500 municipalities didn’t have elected councils. Major cities like Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru faced delays ranging from months to years in holding elections.

The story behind the contention surrounding the Urban Local Body polls in Nagaland:

  • The Nagaland Municipal Act of 2001 was amended in 2006 to introduce a 33% reservation for women in local bodies, by constitutional amendments.
    • However, this amendment became a subject of controversy due to opposition from tribal bodies, citing conflicts with Naga customary laws.
    • These laws under Article 371(A) of the Constitution violated Naga customary practices where women have traditionally not been part of decision-making bodies.
  • In 2009, the state government deferred municipal elections scheduled for the following year due to the controversy surrounding the Act.
  • Despite opposition, advocacy groups such as the Naga Mothers’ Association (NMA) fought for the implementation of women’s reservations.
  • In 2011, the NMA petitioned the Gauhati High Court, which directed the Nagaland government to hold local body elections.
  • In 2012, the state assembly passed a resolution rejecting women’s reservations in the polls, leading to further legal battles. The NMA filed a special leave petition in the SC, which in 2017 directed the government to hold the polls.
  • When the government moved to conduct the elections as per the Supreme Court directive, violent protests erupted, resulting in casualties. Under mounting pressure, then Chief Minister T R Zeliang resigned from his position.
  • In November, during a special emergency session, the assembly passed the Nagaland Municipal Bill, 2023.
    • This new legislation retains the 33% reservation for women in urban local bodies, aligning with constitutional amendments, but removes provisions such as reservation for the post of chairperson and taxes on immovable property.

Conclusion: Nagaland needs to foster community engagement and participation in the electoral process by promoting inclusive governance structures that involve diverse community members, including women, youth, and marginalized groups.


Mains PYQ: 

Q Recent directives from Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas are perceived by the ‘Nagas’ as a threat to override the exceptional status enjoyed by the State. Discuss in light of Article 371A of the Indian Constitution.(UPSC IAS/2013)

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