• Law- Nagaland – PIL

    The ongoing case regarding the PIL filed against the Nagaland Petroleum and Natural Gas (NP&NG) Rules and Regulation witnessed a new development as the Union Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, filed a counter affidavit as one of the respondents in the case. According to a report received today, as respondent number 8, the Government of India filed a counter affidavit at the Kohima Bench of Guwahati High Court and the affidavit provided the Centre’s interpretation of Article 371(A) and said the Nagaland Legislative Assembly has no jurisdiction to make laws over oil fields in the state. The Ministry, in its affidavit disagreed that the State of Nagaland has any power to make law for development of oil fields and mineral resources.

    It further submitted that the Parliament has “exclusive power” to make laws on the said subject. It claimed that Article 371(A) “does not even restrict the Parliament to apply any of its laws on oil fields and mineral resources in Nagaland and no resolution from the State of Nagaland is required to apply the Parliament’s law on oil fields and mineral resources in the state.” The Ministry hence stated that any existing law made by the State of Nagaland on oil fields and mineral oil resources is “liable to be struck down, the same being without jurisdiction and ultra vires to the Constitution of India.”

    It stated that “the exploration of oil and natural gas is a subject covered by entry 53 (regulation and development of oil and mineral oil resources; petroleum and petroleum products; other liquids and substances declared by Parliament by law to be dangerously inflammable) List 1 of the Union List and therefore, the Parliament alone has the powers to legislate laws on this subject.”
    The Ministry also questioned whether the subjects mentioned under Article 371 (A) as “existing customary and religious laws of Nagaland” and subject for which the state is empowered to make law under state or concurrent list includes development of oil fields and mineral resources, “considering the fact that the said subject does not fall under state or concurrent list.”

    It further stated that the “plain words of Article 371 (A) and the constitutional history of amendments would show that 371 (a) was meant to be a restriction of application of Laws of Parliament and not a source of Legislative Power of the State.” It may be noted that the PIL against the Nagaland Petroleum and Natural Gas (NP&NG) Rules and Regulation, was filed by the Lotha Hoho (LH) and 2 others against the State of Nagaland and 7 others against the state Government’s attempt for exploration of petroleum oil from various spots of Wokha district. UNI AS KK 1342 Christine Michael Sr Jersey

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