Nagaland government has informed the Supreme Court that it was ready to implement a 33 per cent reservation for women in the Urban Local Bodies (ULB) polls. If implemented, ULB elections, a contentious subject in Nagaland, will be held in the state after more than a decade.


Background –

  • The civic body elections were first held in the state in 2004, in accordance with the Nagaland Municipal Act of 2001.
  • The 74th Constitutional Amendments added Article 234(T), which provides for 33% reservation for women in Urban Local bodies.
  • In 2006, the Nagaland Municipal Act of 2001 was amended to include a 33 per cent reservation for women in line with the 1992 Constitutional amendment.


What is the issue then?

  • Since then, there has been widespread opposition to the amendment, as many Naga groups contend that the reservations are in contravention with Naga customary laws as enshrined in Article 371(A) of the Constitution — which accords the state special status and protects its traditional way of life.
  • In February 2017, as the Nagaland government tried holding the elections as per a Supreme Court directive (to hold elections with 33 per cent reservation for women), the state was convulsed by violent protests that led to ouster of the then chief minister T R Zeliang.


Status of women in Nagaland

  • Women do not find political space in Nagaland is evident from the fact that no woman has ever made it to the State Legislative Assembly.
  • Barely a dozen women have contested Assembly elections in the last five decades.
  • Only one woman, Rano M Shaiza, managed to win from the lone Lok Sabha constituency of the state in 1971.
  • In the 2013 Assembly polls, the female voter turn-out in the state stood at 91.22% as against 89.82% for men.
  • Its sex ratio is 931, which is below the national average of 940.
  • Naga culture and customs debar women from land ownership hence their Customary Laws preclude women from inheriting land.