Shillong, Nov23: The Syngkhong Rympei Thymmai (SRT) has urged the governor not to assent the KHAD (Khasi Social Custom of Lineage) (First Amendment) Bill, 2018 passed by the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) citing it is “highly discriminatory” and will create division in the Khasi society.
In a memorandum submitted to the governor, Tathagata Roy recently, SRT president GR Pariong said, “We therefore, fervently request your honour to kindly not to assent the Bill until it corresponds with various laws and principles governing the country.”
He said the Bill appears to be highly discriminatory which will create a division in the Khasi society adding it is destructive rather than productive which will pull the Khasi community toward backwardness and will be a hurdle for them to join the mainstream, as a Khasi Community is also a part of the welfare state.
Expressing total discontentment and dissatisfaction with the enactment of the Bill that poses a threat to the Khasi tribe, he said, “(we) express our outright opposition to this bill, if enacted hastily, will affect the ethnic identity and unity of the Khasi society as a whole.”
Pariong also referred to the Amendment of Section 3 of the Principal Act which states -“Any Khasi who takes the clan/title of his father for himself or his children shall no longer be a ‘Khasi’ and he and/or his children shall be disqualified from all the privileges, status and benefits as a Khasi”.
“… that the clause is defective as it does not recognize those Khasis who take the clan/title of the father although the children are born out of wedlock between a Khasi father and a Khasi mother,” he said.
The SRT was also of the opinion that the Bill should have given an option to those Khasis who want to take/give their father’s title/clan while alleging that the Bill overrules the Right to Freedom (Article 21) of an individual.
Supporting the Bill for giving recognition to “Ringbia or Shaw Bhoi”, a customary practice prevailing among the Khasi clan in Ri Bhoi District, where the offspring of the Khasi father is allowed to take the father’s title/clan, Pariong however said this section violates the Article 15 of the Constitution of India.
“It is apparent that the Bill is discriminatory, as within the same community, a section of the Khasis are allowed to take the title/clan of the father while others are not,” he said.
According to him, the Bill should have dealt only with general aspects of administration and should not contradict with any religious practices/sentiments of the community.
Stating the KHADC compulsorily impose the practice of ‘Tangjait’, he said that ‘Tangjait’ should be made optional to those Khasis who do not practice it.
Pointing out at the existence of the JHADC in Jaintia Hills which in due course of time may enact a Bill of its own, he said the KHADC Bill would probably bring in a lot of misunderstanding and confrontation among the Tribal cousins (Khynriam, Pnar, Bhoi and War) of the same ethnic identity.
Referring to the amendment of Section 10 (g) of the Bill, which states that the “offspring of the Khasi women or Khasi men who violate the Khasi custom of Marriage or Khasi custom of Lineage shall not be a Khasi”, he said the Bill seems to sideline the judgement passed by the Guahati High Court in the case between AS Khongphai Vs Stanley DD Nichols Roy And Anr., on May 26, 1965, on the issue of tribal status of DD Nichols Roy And Anr as he takes the title/clan of his father (i.e (L) Rev. Nichols Roy.
The Case was filed by the then petitioner AS Khongphai challenging the tribal status of DD Nichols Roy and Anr. The judgement was passed and the case was dismissed.
As per the judgement, Clause III (d) the word -‘a person includes (1) a Khasi whose father and mother are Khasis, (2) him whose mother or father is a Khasi, he said.
According to him, the Bill should have been kept in the public domain for comments/suggestions from different stakeholders.
Meanwhile, the SRT president said that the law enacted or proposed to be enacted should be progressive and beneficial to the Khasi Tribe as a whole without any discrimination or ultra-vires to the Constitution of India, which is Supreme.