SHILLONG, Oct 25: Seeking to curb mixed marriages among Khasi women and taking the surname of the father’s clan, the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) on Thursday introduced the KHAD (Khasi Social Custom of Lineage) (First Amendment) Bill, 2018.
Tabling the Bill during the special session held here, KHADC chief executive member Hispreaching Son Shylla said, “It has become necessary to further strengthen the Khasi Social Customs of Lineage by way of codification of Khasi customary laws for effective implementation of the KHAD (Khasi Social Custom of Lineage) Act, 1997 and hence this amendment Bill.”
The new Bill was necessitated after the Council recalled the first and second amendment Bills (2015 and 2018) and constituted a consultative committee to redraft the Bill. It was also introduced after the House agreed to withdraw the first amendment Bill passed in 2015.
The Bill laid down conditions for which a Khasi tribal has to follow to ensure that his/her offspring also will be considered a tribal.
It also clearly defined the Khasi Custom of Lineage where a Khasi person takes his/her surname from the mother side whereas the Khasi custom of marriage is based on the unique “tip kur tip kha” principle (knowing and upholding the relationship between mother’s clans and that of the father) which has been existence in marriages between Khasi Tribe.
Apart from striping a Khasi woman of her tribal status upon her marriage with a non-Khasi man and specifying that children born out of such wedlock will not enjoy the constitutional protections that come with it, the Bill also strips a tribal Khasi man of his tribal status if he takes the surname from his father.
“Any Khasi who takes the Clan Title of his father for himself or his children shall no longer be a Khasi and he and/or his children shall be disqualified from all privileges, status and benefits as a Khasi,” the Bill states.
However, it maintained that this provision shall not apply in case of ‘Ring Bia’ or ‘Shaw Bhoi’ which is a customary practice by certain clans in Ri Bhoi District.
It defines that Ring Bia or Shaw Bhoi means the customary practices prevailing among some native, indigenous Khasi Clan in Ri Bhoi District where in the case of “duh iing” (meaning a family having no biological female offspring), the Khasi male member of such family may marry a non-Khasi and his offspring take his clan or title and they may be deemed to be a Khasi if they fulfil the conditions of being a Khasi as laid down in the Section 3 of the Act.
The Bill also maintained that every case of Tang jait (if a man takes a wife outside of his community to make way for a new clan to come up), Ring Bia or Shaw Bhoi should be performed or conducted in the presence of headman and Clan elder.
However, it stated that the Registration Authority shall not accept or approve any case of Tang jait if his or her grandparents or parents who are Khasi by the Tang jait ceremony.
Meanwhile, Shylla said that anyone found violating the provisions of the Bill will lose their Khasi status.
He informed on commencement of the Act, people who are taking the surname of their father’s clan will be given six months time to file an application before the Registration Authority to revert back or change to the matrilineal system of lineage.
“The Bill also makes it mandatory for every Khasi to obtain Khasi tribe certificate,” Shylla said.
According to him, every chief and headmen shall be the additional Registration Authority and assistant Registration Authority respectively under the provisions of the Act.
It also provides the constitution of the Tribunal on Khasi Social Custom of Lineage which will have the power to deal with matters related to the Khasi social custom of lineage.
“Whoever commits an offence under this section, on conviction by a magistrate, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term of one year which extend up to three years or with a fine of 20,000 which may extend upto one lakh rupees,” it stated.