Nagaland, one of the tribal states in Northeast India, has 16 major tribes and each diversified in their own culture and customs. Each tribe has their own unique customary law and practices and the prevalence of the same is being witnessed across the state. Customary laws are gender biased, resulting in a patriarchal set up, wherein women are not considered vital in policy and decision making, HRLN unit along with the Naga Mothers Association(NMA) has taken up the rights of women to be represented in the local municipal council demanding for 33% reservation.
The unit has also been pivotal in addressing the violations related to health in the state where the communities have no access to quality services and care in the public health services. In regard to this, catena of Public Interest Litigation has been filed in the Kohima Bench, Guwahati High Court. Also, a petition on siphoning of crores of money under NRHM, has been filed in the Supreme Court. Furthermore, the team has also carried out extensive fact findings in the interior villages to highlight the violations. The unit also works to address the rights of the disabled, rights of mentally ill. A complaint has also been filed in the National Human Rights Commission on the issue of armed atrocities in collaboration with the NMA
1. Lack of human rights discourse amongst the public and the civilians.
2. Most rural villages and the communities are unaware of their legal rights; constitutional and fundamental rights.
3. Hesitation in addressing a social issue in the court of law. The state has a very high social capital, often resulting in compromising of the issues outside the court of law without proper relief being granted to the victims. Violations often go unaddressed due to the high social capital.
4. Apprehension of the communities and the people in raising voices and issues against state authorities.
5. Villagers prefer going to the customary courts to address most social problems and issues.
1. The organisation has been one of the first, in the state, to litigate in the field of human rights and address social issues.
2. The organisation has also been one of the first in the state to address the issue of maternal death in the court of law and hold the state responsible for failing to secure the fundamental rights of women.
3. HRLN lawyers on behalf of the Naga Mothers Association got final reliefs in a case where the Kohima High Court directed the State of Nagaland to hold elections to district municipal councils with 33% seats reserved for women. This order was the beginning of tremendous increase in women’s control over state resources.
4. The Nagaland unit was able to get two mentally ill prisoners freed from jail and admitted in mental hospitals for proper treatment thereby using the precedent set to secure justice for more similarly placed prisoners.
5. In a Public Interest Litigation related to conditions of Juvenile Home in Nagaland the High Court bench in Kohima directed the state to improve conditions of the only Juvenile home in the state and if need be raise funds from the center to establish Juvenile homes in every district.
6. In another case about availability of testing and treatment of Hepatitis ‘C’ the Kohima high Court ordered the state to approach the center for additional funds at the earliest to start testing and treatment facilities and run an Information Education and Communication programme.
7. Drug resistant falciparum malaria is the primary public health problem in Nagaland. The High court while slapping a fine of Rupees 10,000 on the state for not replying to the petition, on time, ordered the state to submit a long term and short term plan for early detection and prompt treatment of malaria.
8. More than 100 cases of innocent tribals living in the surrounding areas near Mao Gate being brutally beaten up by the armed forces were taken up by the unit. Scores of families were looted of their meagre belongings including livestock (chicken, pigs, etc.) leaving them with nowhere to go.
9. The Nagaland unit has filed a petition for establishment of a State Human Rights Commission. In a near conclusive hearing in the Kohima High court the state gave an excuse of shortage of funds to which HRLN lawyers submitted that the state has money to send delegation to Scotland for a ‘Tattoo Festival’ and no money for Human Rights Commission. The High Court showed intolerance to such excuses and asked the state lawyer to obtain immediate instructions from the government and establish the commission.
10. Nagaland unit of HRLN filed the first case of domestic violence in the state. This assumes significance as most matters pertaining to domestic violence are heard and decided in the customary courts.
11. The unit is following up its petition in the Supreme Court for implementation of 33% reservation of women in the Urban Local Bodies of district municipal council elections. In the Special leave Petition filed, the Apex court stayed the impugned order and judgment of the Division Bench which reversed the judgment of the single bench which had allowed for 33% reservation of women in the Municipal Election. Thereafter on the stay order passed by the Supreme Court, the State of Nagaland decided to conduct the election with reservation. However due to agitations, protest and state wide bandhs called by the Apex tribal bodies and Civil organisations and excommunication of the women candidates from their communities and ultimatums being served, the election could not be conducted. The petitioners in the present case were also threatened. In course of the matter, the impleadment of PUCL, as petitioners in the case has been accepted by the Apex Court.