To begin with, Hill Tribals and Manipuri Plains were in separate administration in antiquity. There were no historical records in those primeval ages. Among the many instances that was worthy to mention was seen by the Government of India Act, 1935 during the British rule. On the passing of this Act of 1935 there was a serious rumination and even controversy regarding the administration of hill tribals and Manipuri valley peoples which result in the Maharaja of Manipur to give his consent to exclude Manipur Tribals from his administration as per his agreed letter dated the 21st July, 1939 quoting, “to federate on terms which cover the exclusion of the hills from his direct control.” One main reason among the many was his inability to go to the Hills and rule over them was beyond his capacity which was validly confirmed by the remarks of Col. Woods, Col J. Shakespeare and Col. Maxwell – quoting, “Manipuris are unfitted to control the Hill Tribes”.
On the basis of the above stated comments the Government of India included this case in the Constitution of India after the Indian Independence in which the Tribals were look after their administration under the Indian Civil Service (ICS) Officer who administered the Hills of Manipur separately. In continuation of this, the Hill Areas Committee under Art. 371C of the Constitution of India as well as the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act, 1971 were being arranged by the Indian Constitution to administer the Tribals.
However, the majority plain people always intend to exploit the backward tribals as is the norms of everywhere in the world. The accumulated endemic of a tacit exploitation of the tribals of Manipur by the majority people was going on, which was all on a sudden exploded on the 31st August, 2015 when the State Assembly in its hypocritical sitting applauded with one accord the three draconian bills for the tribals. The three heinous bills are the culmination of the valley people who out of avarice capricious and malice have been grabbing the leniency and protection of the most backward tribals of India through the dexterity of Indian Constitution since its enforcement.
It is, therefore, worthy of serious mull when passed the Three Bills by the Manipur Legislative Assembly on the 31st day of August, 2015. Let us discuss the three bills passed as brief as possible as under:
1. The Protection of Manipur Peoples Bill, 2015:
The Government of Manipur introduced this Bill by obtaining the recommendation of the Governor of Manipur as per under Art. 207 Clause (1) and (3) of the Constitution of India. This is a blatant violation of the Constitution of India Art. 110 & 199 Section (1) (a) to (f) and Sub-section (a) to (f) of Section (3) respectively. The stated – Articles state that Money Bill relates to imposition of taxes and expenditures likely to involve transaction affecting the Consolidated Fund of the Indian Union or the states. The preamble, the objectives, reasons and coverage Area of the Bill are totally not related to any taxation or expenditure matters, which will affect the Consolidated Fund of the State or the Union Government. The title of the Bill itself refers to the people social security and not taxation or monetary matters.
The expenditure involves for development, infrastructure, salaries or maintenance which may involve will no doubt affect the Consolidate Fund of the State. However, the spirit of the Bill is social security and hence it breaks natural justice and therefore it cannot be regarded as Money Bill. So, it is to be referred to the Hill Areas committee as per Rules and Procedure and Conduct of Business in Manipur Legislative Assembly – Rules 159 & 160.
The Manipur Legislative Assembly (Hill Areas Committee) Order, 1972: Art. 4 Clause (1): “All Schedule matters in so far as they relates to the Hill Areas shall be within the purview of the Hill Areas Committee and Clause (2) – Every Bill, other than a money bill affecting wholly or partly the Hill Areas and containing mainly provisions dealing with any of the Schedule Matters shall after introduction to the Assembly be referred to the Hill Areas Committee for consideration and report to the Assembly. Hence, the bill haughtily bypassed the above mentioned Articles of the Indian Constitution and therefore when we are getting down to the brass tracks we may infer that the Bill is worthy of abrogation.
The Preamble of the Bill:
1. “To provide protection, maintenance of socio-economic and cultural balance of the Manipur people and for maintenance of peace and public order… and regulation of entry into and exit from Manipur for Non-Manipuri persons and tenants.” This preamble of the bill clearly shows that the Bill is not a Money Bill and as such it cannot stand as Money Bill within the Constitution of our Country, India.
(a) Area Coverage Clause (2) of Section 1: “It shall extend to the whole of the State of Manipur.” This attracts the Art. 371C of the Constitution of India.
(b) Statement of Objects and Reasons: “Manipur is one of the small Hill States of the Northeastern region of India…” This statement is unconstitutional as nowhere in the Constitution of India ever written Manipur as a small Hill State. It states that the geographical area of Manipur is 22,237 sq. km., the Hill Areas covers 20,089 sq. km and the Valley has only 2,238 sq. km. The fear of influx of outsiders cause panic in the minds of the people of Manipur. Hence, need for regulation and control. This statement is a clear indication of the Government’s intention to include the hill lands with the plain which had been separated long time ago.
(c) Expenditure (Money Involved): Reference to Financial Memorandum: For infrastructure development which is a non-recurring expenditure amount of Rs. 10 crores has been earmarked. An approximate sum of Rs. 80 lakhs per annum earmarked the salaries and maintenance etc., etc. This is quite irrelevant to the Bill in body and spirit.
The Other Aspects of the Bill:
The Bill’s Clause (b) of Section 2 is intended for outsiders/non-Manipur persons who immigrated into the State since 1951 and does not apply to the people of Manipur were born, are born, live and living in the State and protected under Clause (b) of Section 8 being ‘Native People of the State of Manipur.’ It also clarifies that under Clause (a) of Section 8 being that ‘Native People’ all sections/tribes living in Manipur (Hill & Valley). The term ‘Native People’ is nowhere defined in the said Bill and does not come within the purview of Clause (b) of Section 2 of the said Bill passed by the Manipur Legislative Assembly on the 31st day of August, 2015.
However, on closer examination it reveals that those people who fulfilled the three criteria, viz., (i) Persons whose names are in the National Register of Citizens, 1951; (ii) Census Report 1951 and (iii) Village Directory of 1951 and those descendants who have contributed collective social, cultural and economic life of Manipur. The Bill, in the provision of Clause (b) of Section 2 writes the phrase, ‘Persons of Manipur,’ if it intends to exclude the Tribals; it would rather use the phrase, ‘Non-Tribal Residence of Manipur.’ Thus, the Bill excluded almost 80% of the Tribals in the Hill Areas from the purview of Section 2(b) of the Bill and shall be treated as ‘Non-Manipur Persons’ under Section 2(c) of the Bill with consequential carnage. Any right thinking citizen would feel that by just inserting the phrase “except the tribal land and its peoples thereof” at the end of Sub-section (2) of Section 1, the present deluge may easily avoided.
Over and above, the Bill violates Art. 371C of the Constitution of India.
2. The Manipur Land Revenue & Land Reforms (Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2015:
The Manipur Land Revenue & Land Reforms Act, 1960 has been extending to the Hill Areas from time to time under Section 1(2) under The Manipur Land Revenue & Land Reforms (Amendment) Act, 1975 in violation of Sub-section (2) of Section 1 of the Principal Act, grabbing large track of lands from the hill areas of Churachandpur, Ukhrul, Senapati, Tamenglong and surrounding international border town Moreh. The Government had grabbed the above-mentioned tribal lands by inserting the proviso to Sub-section (2) of Section 1 as per Manipur Act No. 13 of 1976 published in the Manipur Gazette dated 24.05.1976.
In the present Bill again Section 14A and 14B are inserted to the Principal Act, which covered the whole of Manipur by rescinding Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act, 1971.
Again, the Manipur Land Revenue & Land Reforms Act, 1960 Section 158 Clause (b) states that permission to transfer land from tribal to non-tribal shall be made by the Deputy Commissioner subjected to the prior consent of the District Council whereas, in the present Bill in study Section 14A & 14B just bewilder the hill leaders and the public in general; the Phrase, “Non-Manipur persons, firms, institutions or any other similar entities who intend to purchase any land in the State of Manipur shall…obtain the prior approval of the State Government before such purchase is made by him.” After duly made inquiry by the concerned Deputy Commissioner, he shall obtain the approval of the State Cabinet. This clearly shows that all land selling or purchase to be made by any person in Manipur shall obtain State Cabinet approval. This is a total deviation from the tribal rights, which is endowing by the Constitution of India. Again, this Bill permits Non-Manipur persons living in Manipur Hills or Valley can purchase any land in the State of Manipur (Hills & Valley). Thus, the insertion of Section 14A in the Bill curtails Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act, 1971 & Rules 1972.
Besides, this Bill was hastily passed without proper discussion and violates the Provisions of the Manipur Legislative Assembly (Hill Areas Committee) Order, 1972.
3. The Manipur Shops and Establishments (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015:
This Act provides for Registration of Shops/Establishments and Regulation of Employment. Employer should issue Identity Cards to all employees all over Manipur. The passing of this Bill attracts the Manipur Legislative Assembly (Hill Areas Committee) Order, 1972 as per Clause (1) & (2) of Section 4 of the Bill passed.
1. The virile youth who breathed their last on the 31st August, 2015 should be cherished through the Ages.
2. Let the Tribal Unity be flourished at all times.
3. The Government, who is bold enough to annul our Supreme Constitution, be changed by our concerted agitation of all kinds within the frame work of the Constitution of India.
4. To keep on agitating unto death until the virulent of this Government towards us is vanished and then usher in a new era for us to enjoy the nectar of our Constitution of India prevails over the Tribals of Manipur.
5. As the Government of the People, by the People and for the People dawns in the present Century, the Government of Manipur who ensnares the Tribals and expatriates the people must be dismantled and replaced by a genuine Government. This is the present sine qua non to save the losing Tribals of Manipur.
6. The final and most important is the guidance of our Almighty God. He is the living God and above all gods. Let us dedicate ourselves to Him. Let us lead our life in tune with Him in reverence and obedience to His Holy Words. Only here lies our Survival.
By Dr R Sanga