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Quit by Sept 30 : ATSUM to tribal MLAs

IMPHAL: Giving a critique on the three controversial Bills, the Coordinating Committee, ATSUM has made a fervent appeal to all tribal MLAs to take a graceful exit from their respective seats of the Manipur Legislative Assembly on or before September 30, 2015. 
The Co-ordinating Committee of ATSUM (CCA) in a statement said that the Manipur Legislative Assembly committed a grave Constitutional blunder intentionally while introducing and passing the three Bills as it did not follow the mandatory rules of procedures and conduct of Business under section 4 Clause 1 and 2 which reads as (1) “All Scheduled matters in so far as they relate to the Hill Areas shall be with the purview of the Hills Areas Committee.

It is crystal clear beyond any shadow of doubt that the claim by the GoM that Protection of Manipur People Bill is a Money Bill is untenable as per law and absolutely misleading to the people because Money Bill relates to imposition of taxes and expenditure likely to involve transaction affecting the consolidated Fund of the Union or the State.

Moreover, the spirit of the Bill has its social security objectives.

Hence, the Bills fail to fulfil the Criteria of a Money Bill. As such, the Protection of Manipur People Bill, 2015 passed by the Manipur Legislative Assembly is indicative of the deliberate intention of the GoM to infringe on the Rights and Privileges of the tribal people and gross violation of Article 371C of the Indian Constitution because every Bill other than Money Bill affecting wholly or partly the Hill Areas and containing mainly provisions dealing with any of the scheduled matter shall after introduction in the Assembly be referred to the Hill Areas Committee for consideration and report to the Assembly of the Manipur Legislative Assembly envisaged under Article 371C of the Indian Constitution.

Rules of procedures and conduct of business had been deliberately violated as the three Bills were neither debated nor referred to the HAC before introduction and passing of the said Bills, CCA said.

The Protection of Manipur People Bill 2015 contained highly objectionable clauses which are clinically designed to deprive and further marginalise the tribal of their rights and traditional lands.

Section 2 of the Bill reads “It shall extend to the whole of Manipur” means the entire geographical area including of hill areas. Therefore, the sentence should be changed to: It shall extend only to the four valley districts of Manipur (subject of the HAC) the controversial definition of the ‘Manipur People’ and the undefined meaning of native people in the Bill under section 2 Sub Clause (b) and with reference to the base year i.e. the National Registry of Citizens 1951, Census Report 1951 and Village Directory of 1951 are the three requisite criteria that qualifies one to be Manipur people.

Based on this parameter, 80% of the villages in the hill areas would be rendered unofficial and liable to the de-recognised by the Government.

It is also to be noted that registration of citizens and census report in the hills falls within the purview of the HAC for consideration because the “second scheduled” of the Manipur Legislative Assembly HAC order 1972 which reads “The establishment of Village Committee or Councils and other matter relating to village administration and abolition of villages in the matter of payment of Hill house tax are made by the respective village headman/chief as per item No. 9 of the said scheduled matters”.

Moreover, it is to be noted that in 1951, majority of the hill men were not even aware that they were part of the State called Manipur and most of the tribal villages were not even registered under the GoM as majority of the tribal villages were left isolated from the rest of the world due to transport and communication.

The phrase “one of the small hill States” appeared in the first line of objects and reasons is highly objectionable because Manipur is not a hill State. It is a ploy to change Manipur to a hill State so as to make the Meiteis eligible to be included in the list of Scheduled Tribe of India.
The Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms 7th Amendment Bill 2015 14 A (1) which reads “Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act..............Manipur” is a Non Obstante Clause which in fact is a legislative device for enabling to give effect inspite of the bar provided by the provision of statute.

Moreover, the terms ‘any land in the State of Manipur’ in the same section implies that the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms Act(MLR & LR) shall be extended in the hill areas of Manipur apart from the proviso to sub section of Section 1 as per Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms Act No. 13 of 1976 published in Manipur Gazette dated 24-5-1976 wherein large pockets of plain areas of Churachandpur, Ukhrul, Senapati, Sadar Hills and Tamenglong districts had been the accumulated by the GoM by means of systematic encroachment of tribal lands in the name of development. As a matter of fact, it is a sinister design to grab tribal traditional land in due course of time by way of legal interpretation and means.

Section 14 B pages 3 of the Bill which empowers the State Cabinet to approve purchase of any land in the State is a complete disregard to the HAC because the HAC is the sole authority in matters pertaining to Hill Areas. Therefore, the Cabinet has nothing to do with allotment of land. By virtue of Article 371C, the Cabinet is incompetent to consider the matter without the consent and knowledge of the HAC in all matters relating to hill districts.

“Whereas under Section 158 land belonging to a Scheduled Tribe in the valley areas cannot be sold to a non-scheduled tribe without the prior consent of the Deputy Commissioner concerned.......”. here we notice insertion of the word “valley areas” under section 158 which was not there in the principal Act 1960.

Whereas, it is mandatory on the part of the DC to secure the consent of the District Council as per the principal Act, the inherent power of the district has been deleted by omitting the words ‘District Council’ and by insertion of the two section 14 A and 14 B, thereby vesting all power with the DC who can by-pass the district council and approval of the State Cabinet which is violation of the provision of the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council Act, 1971.

The Manipur Shops and Establishment(2nd Amendment) Bill 2015 attracts social and customs, which is enshrined in the scheduled matters, clause (12) under the second scheduled of the Hill Areas Committee order, 1972 because Shops and Establishment shall be established not only in the valley areas but also in the Hill Areas as well and yet the Bill was passed without referring to the HAC for consideration which is against the rules of procedure and conduct of business in Manipur Legislative Assembly.

Now the matter in question pertaining to the passing of the three Bills will be determined by our tribal representatives who have been trustingly placed in their respective positions. Alas! The hon’ble tribal Ministers and MLAs of Manipur have put themselves and the tribal populace in precipice. Majority of the tribal leaders and civil organisations outside the Government of Manipur are sceptical of their land and future in the State of Manipur. Laws of dubious nature had replaced the decades old laws.

That, this critique in black and white is a clarion call to awaken the public in general and the tribal legislators in particular asserting as to why we cannot accept the three Bills. It is in our wisdom that an appeal had been made verbally to all the tribal legislators to step down from the membership as legislators of Manipur Assembly. Some have promptly put in their resignation but majority haven’t done. The Co-ordinating Committee of ATSUM has no ulterior motive behind giving out this critique but in good faith for the well being of the tribals. We are sanguine that the tribal legislators will understand the grave situation we are in and to react accordingly in order to defuse the situations by listening to the sentiments and feelings of the people.

As the Co-ordinating Committee ATSUM is relentlessly putting efforts to subside the situations, support and co-operations from the legislators is expected. We reiterate our appeal to step down from one’s respective seats to pave way for restoration of peace and order in the hill districts. Considering the fluid situation in the hill districts, we feel constrained to ask once and for all to the tribal legislators to put in their resignation paper before September 30, 2015. We are hopeful that this appeal will be honoured or any incident that occurs after the expiry of the stipulated time will be the sole responsibility of the legislators.

Source: The Sangai Express

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