NLU seminars focus on NE societies amid UCC debate

Shillong, Oct 16: National Law University Meghalaya recently organised a series of workshops that highlighted the traditional and customary practices of northeastern societies, often overlooked but profoundly influential in shaping the region’s social and legal dynamics, particularly in the context of the current UCC debates.

The first in the series titled ‘Voices from the North East: Adoption, Inheritance, and Maintenance in the Uniform Civil Code’ was held on September 9. It focused on the ‘Customary Practices of Tribal Societies’.


The first session, moderated by Dr Dipa Dube, had discussions on the practices that have often been sidelined in the mainstream discourse. The panellists were Dr Topi Basar from Rajiv Gandhi University, Arunachal Pradesh; Dr Shabeena Yasmin Saikia from Gauhati University, Assam; Dr. Ngamjahao Kipgen from IIT Guwahati; Prof. Rekha M Shangpliang from NEHU, Shillong; Dr Samuel L Chuaungo from Mizoram University, Aizawl; Dr G. Kanato Chophy from Dibrugarh University, Dibrugarh, and Dr Sharmila Chhotaray from Tripura University.

The discussion began by addressing concerns related to Article 44 of the Indian Constitution advocating a Uniform Civil Code. Panellists emphasised the need to preserve regional customs in northeastern India due to its cultural diversity and elucidated upon the impact of urbanisation on adoption practices and the deeply entrenched customary laws, the complexities of adopting UCC by matrilineal societies, and concerns about its potential negative effects on traditional communities.

This and the following sessions were conducted virtually.

The second workshop, held on September 16, explored ‘Customary Practices and Its Implications For Individual Freedom’, dissecting the delicate balance between age-old customs and individual rights.

Dr Khushal Vibhute moderated this session, which featured distinguished legal luminaries such as Justice Mir Alfaz Ali, Justice Indira Shah, Senior Advocate T.T. Diengdoh from the High Court of Meghalaya, and Advocate B. Lalramenga from the Gauhati High Court, Aizawl Bench.

The panel deliberated on various topics, including preservation of traditional practices, gender inequality, land ownership customs, and the potential impact of the UCC on tribal communities.

The speakers stressed the need for a gradual, consultative approach to codifying customary laws, respecting cultural diversity, and individual rights. They also discussed the feasibility of introducing uniformity while respecting regional differences and the importance of consensus-building and suggested phased implementation of UCC.

The third instalment of this series, under the adept moderation of Dr. Umeshwari Dkhar, deliberated on the theme ‘Balancing Between Traditions And Individual Rights’ and included esteemed guests Irom Chanu Sharmila, Manas Chaudhuri and Takatiba Masa Ao.

The third panel discussion scrutinised the implications of the UCC in North-eastern India and shared concerns regarding the UCC potentially infringing upon Article 371A, endangering cultural diversity, and the necessity for a consultative approach in the region’s distinctive socio-cultural context.

Additionally, deliberations extended to topics such as land ownership, compulsory marriage registration, and the complexities faced by local industries.

The panel considered the delicate balance between traditional customary laws and individual constitutional rights within the context of the UCC’s implementation, addressing various pertinent legal and societal facets.

The next session will be held on November 4.

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