Draft Arunachal Inheritance Bill meets with stiff opposition

No plan to table it in upcoming session, says govt.

The draft Arunachal Pradesh Marriage and Inheritance of Property Bill, 2021, envisaging land rights for girls has met with stiff opposition in the State.

Various students organisations said they will not allow the Bill to be passed in the State Assembly unless a tribal woman who marries anyone belonging to non-Arunachal Pradesh Scheduled Tribe (non-APST) is stripped of her ST status and benefits.

The All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) said the Bill was being brought without consultations with the stakeholders and, if passed, would pave the way for the non-APSTs to settle down in the State permanently.

“This Bill is a bid to structurally change the customary laws or traditional settings of the State’s tribal people. It is aggressive and undemocratic in nature and largely undermines the views and opinions of all the community-based organisations,” AAPSU general secretary Tobom Dai said.

“Opposing the draft Bill doesn’t mean we are against the women of Arunachal Pradesh. But the government should first publish the draft it has been preparing on the issue of the offspring of non-APST men married to APST women,” he said.

The Adi (community) Students’ Union said equal rights have been given to males and females in tribal societies since time immemorial although customary and traditional laws allow land to be given to men.

“The draft Bill should be debated in the context of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873 as well as the Citizenship (Amendment) Act that the equal property rights law may violate,” the union said in a statement.

“Married women have the right to enjoy all the inherited property by his husband. This Bill will bring confusion among the tribal clans. Many tribal women will not support this Bill,” a spokesperson of the Apatani (community) Students’ Union said.

The criticisms led the State government to clarify that it has no plans to table the Inheritance Bill in the upcoming session of the 60-member Assembly or discuss it in the Cabinet.

“The Bill in question is not being drafted by any department. It came to our notice on August 18 when an Arunachal Pradesh State Commission for Women team called on the Chief Minister and submitted the draft form of the Bill as a memorandum with a request to consider it,” government spokesperson Bamang Felix said on August 20.

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