| Court directive
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice N. Kotiswar Singh passed the order in connection with a public interest litigation (number 59/2012) filed by the All Rabha Students’ Union (ARSU).
ARSU president Tanke-swar Rabha had filed the PIL in September this year. The state government and the state election commission were made respondents in this case.
Advocates S.K. Medhi and Sabda Ram Rabha appeared in the court on behalf of the petitioner.
“Today’s landmark order has paved the way for holding the first elections to the autonomous council, which was constituted in 1995,” said Sabda Ram Rabha.
“Although the autonomous council was formed 17 years ago, the state government did not hold a single election yet and was running the administration through interim arrangements,” he said.
The then commissioner and secretary of the welfare of plain tribes and backward classes, L. Phangso, had appointed lower Assam commissioner S. Hussain as the chief administrator of the autonomous council through an order passed on March 1, 2012, the advocate said.
“Owing to the absence of elected representatives, there had been allegations of corruption in the autonomous council,” he added.
Petitioner Tonkeswar Rabha hailed the today’s court order and described it as a “landmark judgment”.
“Now the state government will have no other option but to hold elections within the next six months. In the order it is clearly mentioned that the elections will have to be held within six months,” he said.
Rabha also thanked all those who had extended support to their struggle for the cause of the Rabha-Hasong community.
Apart from ARSU, several other Rabha-Hasong organisations of Goalpara and Kamrup, including the Sixth Schedule Demand Committee, have been calling for elections to the council for the past several years.
The state government had constituted the autonomous council with Dudhnai town as its headquarters.
Altogether 779 villages in Kamrup and Goalpara districts were included in the council.
The council was created to fulfil the longstanding demands of the Rabha and Hasong people living in that area and to protect their political rights and uplift their socio-economic conditions.