National Seminar on Customary Laws of North East held at USTM

“The customary practices among different tribes of North East India reflect small practices of the whole of India. But there is difference between mainstream and periphery regions,” this was stated by Prof (Dr) Poonam Saxena, Vice Chancellor, National Law University, Jodhpur on Saturday while addressing a two-day National Seminar on “Customary Laws of North East India: Practice and Prevalence” organised here from October 21 to 22 by the University School of Law and Research, University of Science and Technology Meghalaya.

Inaugurating the Seminar, the chief guest on the occasion, Prof Saxena, spoke on customary laws and their contradiction with modern legislation and said that the force and power of customs is still very much continuing in many parts of India, for example, female foeticide, child marriage, and dowry.

Addressing the Seminar, Prof (Dr) Amarjyoti Choudhury, Vice Chancellor of USTM, said that customary law as a human practice is very fundamental to existence. He said that the dream of every common person is that legal practice is to be made more humane, more effective, less expensive and less time consuming. 

Prof (Dr) R C Borpatragohain, Dean and faculty of law, Gauhati University, said that customary laws are to be adopted with an innovative revivalism. According to him, the advisory litigating system in the formal courts of law is totally discouraging and due to a delayed justice delivery system, many have to loss prime years of their lives.  Earlier, welcoming the delegates and all participants, Prof (Dr) AK Sinha, Dean, University School of Law and Research, USTM, said that different tribes of people in the North-East practice different customary laws and as a result, very few cases come to the formal courts of law.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof (Dr) Jeuti Barooah, former Director, Law Research Institute, Gauhati High Court, said that the customary laws in the North East are in a transitional state -from the traditional to modern. She said that for mediation, one must look after the provisions in the customary law and the provisions in the modern law. 

Prof (Dr) BK Chakraborty, Head of the Department of Law, Tezpur University, pointed out that there is a difference of opinion regarding whether customary laws should be codified or only documented. He added that documentation with recommendations could be one of the solutions.

Prof (Dr) Nuzhat Parveen Khan, Dean and Faculty of Law, Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi was the Guest of Honour in the Inaugural session. She said that customs and traditions give identity to the tribes of India and that most of the laws revolve around the principle of connectivity of community. She added that most of the tribal communities face cultural misappropriation of traditional customs and practices. This could be because of lack of documentation.

In his speech, Dr Yaseen Khan, a Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court, said that he is in favour of enacting customary laws. If any custom comes into contradiction with the Constitution, the Constitution should be followed.

A total of 51 participants from different colleges and universities are presenting papers on various relevant themes related to customary laws in the two-day-long National Seminar. The inaugural session came to an end with the vote of thanks offered by Akkas Ali, Coordinator, University School of Law and Research, USTM.

(Photo: Dr Poonam Saxena, Vice-Chancellor, National Law University, Jodhpur delivering the welcome address).