GOVERNMENT: THE PAST AND PRESENT
On 15th August 1947 when India became an independent nation, North East Frontier Agency commonly known as NEFA became an integral part of the Union of India. It was administrated by the Ministry of External Affairs with the Governor of Assam acting as agent to the President of India. The administrative head was the Advisor to the Governor.
In 1972, the NEFA became a Union Territory. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi has acquired the name of Arunachal Pradesh. After 3 years, in 1975, it acquired a legislature. Finally on 20th February 1987, Statehood was conferred on Arunachal Pradesh, when Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister and it became the 25th State of the Union of India.
Area-wise, Arunachal Pradesh is the largest state of the NE region of India. It forms a complex hill system of Shivalik and Himalayan origin and is criss-crossed by numerous rivers and streams. The state shares a total of 1630 kms of international boundary with neighboring countries; 1030 kms with China, 160 kms with Bhutan and 440 kms with Myammar. The McMohan line defines the international boundary between India and China. Administratively, the State is divided into Seventeen districts. Capital of the State is Itanagar in Papum Pare district. Itanagar is named after Ita Fort meaning fort of bricks, built in 14th century AD.
Arunachal Pradesh is not a linguistic state. It is an ethnic state inhabited by colourful tribal people of diverse culture and lifestyle. All of them have their own unique culture and traditions. They also have customary laws and a time tested dispute resolution mechanism. The disputes in tribal societies are resolved by a system of administration of justice founded on customs and customary laws of each tribe by the Village Council.
It is most gratifying to remember that the inhabitants of this tribal state have the spirit of democracy inherent in their traditional laws, which further strengthen by the five fundamental principles for administration of tribal areas.
There were unwritten rules for administration of tribal villages. However, the customs and traditions were almost compatible with the modern concepts of jurisprudence. The tribal councils in NEFA were functioning on the lines of the system evolved for parliamentary democracy, which is in vogue now a days. This is well illustrated in the utterances of the leaders of the councils Kebang/ Buliang/ Mela/ Abela of different communities in their traditional speeches, which they recite at the beginning of their meeting. “Villagers and brethren, let us strengthen our custom and our council, let us improve our relations, let us make the laws straight and equal for all, let our laws be uniform, let our customs be the same for all, let us be guided by the reason and see that justice is done and the compromise reached that is acceptable to both parties. We have come together for a council meeting and let us speak in one voice and decide our verdict…” The council derived their authority from the expression of the will and power of the people. They had the support of both social and supernatural. Thus, the concept of parliamentary democracy is not new to the tribal society.
The history of the growth of political process in Arunachal Pradesh dates back to 1875 when the British-India Government started to define the administrative jurisdiction by drawing an Inner Line in relation to the frontier tribes inhabiting the North Frontier Tract, the area was kept outside the purview of regular laws of the country. Thereafter, the British followed the policy of gradual penetration to bring more areas under normal administration. By the year 1946, the North East Frontier Tracts were reorganized into four Frontier Tracts namely Sadiya, Lakhimpur, Tirap and Sela Sub Agency and Subansiri area and administrated by the Governor of Assam in his discretion. By virtue of the Indian Independence Act 1947, the Government of Assam assumed administrative jurisdiction over North East Frontier Tracts and the Governor of Assam was divested of his discretionary powers. The Government of Assam administered the North East Frontier Tracts during the period 15th August 1947 to 26th January 1950.
After independence, a sub-committee headed by Gopinath Bordoloi was appointed by the Constituent Assembly of India to recommend the future pattern of administration of the North Eastern Frontier Areas. The Bordoloi Committee recommended that since the administration has been satisfactorily established over a sufficiently wide area, the Government of Assam should take over that area by the strength of a notification.
However, for various considerations, particularly problem of communication and defiance, Government of India decided to administer North East Frontier Tracts as “Excluded Area” through Governor of Assam as an agent to the President of India. In the year 1950, the plain portions of these tracts namely, Balipara Frontier Tract, Tirap Frontier Tract, Abor Hill District and Mishimi Hills Districts were transferred to the Government of Assam. In 1951, the units of the tracts were reconstituted again and Tuensang Frontier Division was created which later merged with Nagaland. The remaining portion of the Tracts after the introduction of the North East Frontier (Administration) Regulation, 1954 was designated as the North East Frontier Agency, the NEFA. Thereafter, the administration was brought under the Ministry of External Affairs and in August 1965, it was brought under the supervision and control of the Ministry of Home Affairs. It remained so, until the attainment of Union Territory status by Arunachal Pradesh in 1972.
It was only in 1975 that the virtue of the enactment of 37th Constitutional Amendment Act 1975 that the Pradesh Council was constituted as a separate Legislative Assembly and Lt. Governor was appointed as the head of the Union Territory of Arunachal Pradesh. The Pradesh Council became provisional Legislative Assembly having 23 members during 1975 to 1978. The first elected Legislative Assembly consisting of 33 members (30 elected members and 3 nominated members) was formed on 4th March 1978, which lasted only for about 20 months. In November 1979, the Assembly was dissolved and President’s Rule was imposed which continued till January 1980.
The Second General Election was held in January, 1980. The Third General Election for Legislative Assembly was held simultaneously with the General Election for the Eighth Lok Sabha in December, 1984 and the Assembly was constituted in January, 1986.
There are one MP in the Rajya Sabha and two MPs in the Lok Sabha represent at the Union Government by people of Arunachal Pradesh.
Arunachal Pradesh became full-fledged State with effect from 20th February, 1987. On the persistent demand of the people of the State, the total membership in the Legislative Assembly was raised to sixty during the General Election in 1990, and the First Legislative assembly of the State was constituted.