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Are Manipur’s 3 bills with Rashtrapati Bhavan or PMO?

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Written by-  Ningombam Bupenda Meitei

Whether or not the three bills – the Protection of Manipur People Bill, 2015, the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2015, and the Manipur Shops and Establishments (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015 – unanimously passed by the Manipur Assembly are constitutional is to be decided not even by the Parliament but by the Supreme Court of India, if the bills become an act. The present complexities arising out of the three bills are primarily not constitutionally and legally complex, but the process of converting the bills into act which is not at all difficult is being made to appear so confusing, all because of the very fact that where the bills, whether in Rashtrapati Bhavan or PMO, are at present is still not discussed and less known to the common people of Manipur.

The all political parties’ delegation, which was supposed to reach New Delhi by May 16 but has not yet materialised so far, is still unclear whether who – whether the state’s Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh or Manipur Pradesh Congress President T. N. Haokip – will lead it. If it is not led by the elected Leader of the people of Manipur, notably the Chief Minister of the state, then, how will such delegation show seriousness over the matter regarding the bills to either the President of India or the Prime Minister of India? What will happen if the Prime Minister Narendra Modi asks the delegation – where is your Leader, the Chief Minister? Moreover, why should the state presidents of other political parties be a part of the delegation not led by the state’s Chief Minister but by the president of one of the political parties? Will BJP Manipur President Bhabhananda Singh, who already left for New Delhi a few days after he became the state’s BJP President, allow himself and his party to be a part of the delegation led by the state president of another political party?

The question, which is a product of why the Chief Minister, if he does not lead at all, would not like to lead the delegation, remains is – who will execute the role of the Chief Minister when the Chief Minister goes to New Delhi and stays for a week or more to ensure that not only meeting the President or the Prime Minister takes place but also the conversion of the bills into act becomes a nearer possibility? Will a senior Cabinet Minister or Deputy Chief Minister take the temporary charge of the Chief Minister? And, if so, then will the Chief Minister Ibobi Singh be comfortable enough to give a time of a week or weeks to Deputy Chief Minister to take the charge? Will the entire departments, particularly Department of Personnel, under the Chief Minister be smoothly functioning under the Chief Minister-in-charge for a week or weeks while the Chief Minister, if away, is to be in New Delhi for exerting the federal rights, enshrined in the Constitution, to ensure the bills to become act?

The larger question is – who is to be blamed and by whom for the delay of the conversion of the bills into act? If the bills are considered to have been sent by the Governor of Manipur to New Delhi, then it is to be presumed that they have been sent to the Rashtrapati, and therefore there needs an official acknowledgement of the receipt of the bills sent by the Governor of Manipur from the Rashtrapati Bhavan. If so, then the bills are firmly understood to have been placed in the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Now, the next question is – whether the President’s Secretariat has forwarded the bills to be studied to the Prime Minister’s Office or not? If the President’s Secretariat has done so, then whether the Prime Minister’s Office has the official receipt of the bills forwarded from the Rashtrapati Bhavan to the PMO, and if that is confirmed officially from the PMO, then the question has to be raised on the Prime Minister Narendra Modi that how long will the Prime Minister keep the bills in PMO and how long will PMO study it? If the PMO replies stating that the bills are under consideration and sent for further examination and study to Union Home Ministry, then after confirming its acceptance by the Union Home Ministry, from its official receipt of the bills transferred from the PMO, the Union Home Ministry must share the status of the study of the bills with the Manipur Government’s Chief Secretary at the least. If the bills are said to be in the Rashtrapati Bhavan, then all political parties’ delegation led by the Chief Minister of Manipur makes logically sensible and politically matured, but if the bills are confirmed to be in PMO, then the Chief Minister has every right to ask the Prime Minister why the PMO has delayed the process of studying the bills and how long will PMO keep them on its desk? If despite knowing the fact that the bills are in PMO or Union Home Ministry, then the all political parties’ delegation is to be best led by none other than the state’s Chief Minister because the Chief Minister is the authorised and elected Leader of the people of the state in a democracy.

The state Chief Minister could also depute at least 2 (two) Principal Secretaries in Manipur Bhavan in New Delhi to only deal with different central ministries, PMO and the Rashtrapati Bhavan for a quick conversion of the bills into act. The state’s Residential Commissioner in New Delhi’s Manipur Bhavan could also facilitate the speeding up of the bills to become an act. One Additional Chief Secretary of Manipur must be given an additional charge to oversee the entire communication over the bills with Imphal and New Delhi. Without getting the bureaucratic assessment of the ground realities in New Delhi’s North Block and South Block along with the President’s Secretariat and PMO over the status of the bills, merely going to New Delhi will prove to be futile and that failure will almost belittle the credibility of almost all the political parties in Manipur, at present.

Politically, who will take the credit? The Congress – which has introduced the bills in Manipur Assembly or the BJP in Narendra Modi’s control which will ensure the conversion of the bills into act or the JCILPS (Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System)? Who can also be blamed if the bills do not become an act in 2016 – whether the BJP which is in power in New Delhi is to be blamed or the less assertiveness of the Ibobi Singh’s Congress government in Manipur towards the Prime Minister Modi is to be blamed or the absence of the lobbying power or presence of JCILPS in New Delhi is to be questioned?

Leaving aside the politics of taking credit or hurling blame, the larger fundamental question is – where are the bills now? In whose office are the bills placed, at present? Are they in the Prime Minister’s Office or the Rashtrapati Bhavan? This question has to be replied not by separate answers but by only a holistic answer from both the Rashtrapati Bhavan and the PMO.

The question of raising issues out of the bills is separate but to prove that the bills are unconstitutional and illegal, and therefore they need to be rejected and opposed has to be decided not on the streets or in New Delhi but only in the Supreme Court of India as the Apex Court only can decide whether any act, after the bills become an act, is constitutional or not.

Ningombam Bupenda Meitei is a poet, author and orator.  

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