On 9 July, 2015, our Hon’ble Chief Minister, Shri Okram Ibobi Singh declared that the State Governor has not given his assent to the Manipur Regulation of Visitors, Tenants & Migrant Workers Bill, 2015, which was passed during the 10th session of the 10th Manipur Legislative Assembly. According to the Chief Minister, “the Bill was extensively recommended following a detailed discussion for more than five months.” The Bill was also rejected by the people of Manipur, which leads to a series of public agitation under the banner of JCILPS.
The unfortunate part is that the death of Sapam Robinhood Singh (16), S/O S. Romesh Singh of Keisamthong Thangjam Leirak, Imphal. a student from the Anand Singh Higher Secondary School on 8 July, 2015 has added fuel to the fire. The State Government has not ordered even a judicial enquire to do justice to the bereaved family and to calm down the agitation. Probably the JCILPS and JAC may like to take up this issue. It is reported that the Manipur Police has filed an FIR against the deceased Sapam Robinhood instead of treating him as a victim of police atrocity.
The Manipur Regulation of Visitors, Tenants & Migrant Workers Bill, 2015 has been reserved for consultation with the President of India
The Chief Minister, after a long silence disclosed that the State Government has submitted the Bill to His Excellency, the Governor of Manipur on 20 March, 2015 for giving Assent. On 23 June, 2015, His Excellency, the Governor of Manipur informed the State Government that the Bill has been reserved for consultation with the President of India under Article 201 of the Indian Constitution. This procedural failure shows lack of transparency and lack of seriousness and lack of leadership on the part of the State Government.
On 15 July, 2015, the Manipur State Assembly withdraw the Manipur Regulation of Visitors, Tenants & Migrant Workers Bill, 2015
On 12 July, 2015, the Congress Legislators Party decided to withdraw the Manipur Regulation of Visitors, Tenants and migrant Workers Bill, 2015 as passed in the Manipur Legislative Assembly on 16 March 2015. The decision to withdraw the Bill has come after intense public agitation, open defiance of the curfew for more than five days and mounting public pressure to withdraw the Bill. On 15 July, 2015, the Manipur State Assembly withdrew the Bill. The Honourable Chief Minister expressed his intension to constitute a committee comprising of members from the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS) to replace the controversial bill.
The earlier six recommendations of the Political Parties and the comments of the legal experts over a period of five months were rendered useless by the State Government due to poor leadership and lack of seriousness on the part of the State Government.
Who drafted the Manipur Regulation of Visitors, Tenants and Migrant Workers Bill, 2015 (MRVTMW).
Shri Laisom Ibomcha Singh, Hon’ble MLA stated in the Manipur Legislative Assembly that three officials are responsible for drafting of the Manipur Regulation of Visitors, Tenants and Migrant Workers Bill, 2015 (MRVTMW). He did not mention the names of the officials. If the statement is true, then the three officials are responsible for creating civil unrest and anarchy in Manipur and they should be given forced retirement for misleading and acting against the interest of the people of Manipur and misguiding the Manipur State Government. How and why the Manipur State Government did gave power and authority to the migrant workers for drafting a Bill to control migrant workers in Manipur. Is it not funny? Recently our Hon’ble Chief Minister has given forced leave to the Director of JNIMS for committing a lesser crime. The crimes committed by these three officials as mentioned by shri Ibomcha Singh, Hon’ble MLA is 100 times more severe than what the Director of JNIMS has committed. I hope the Hon’ble Chief Minister may do something serious to protect the prestige and image of the Manipur State Government. Our spineless, deaf and dumb MLAs are maintaining a deafening silence at this critical juncture. They are not interested in public issues. They are more interested in distributing old age pensions to poor senior citizens under video coverage violating the privacy, human dignity and human rights of the poor helpless senior citizens. Probably the JCILPS may like to take up this issue.
Earlier Assurances of the Government of Manipur
On 22 July, 1980, the All Manipur Students Union (MSU) and All Manipur Students Co-ordinating Committee (AMSCOC) signed an agreement with the Government of Manipur to initiate identification, detection of foreigners from 1st August, 1980 of all outsiders and send them back home. On 9 November, 1994, a second such agreement as signed by the AMSU with the Government of Manipur. There have a series of protests and movement for introduction of Inner Line Permit system in Manipur. The response of the state government is quite encouraging. The matter has been under active consideration of the State Government. But till date nothing significant has been done during 1980-2015. This is the proof of efficiency of the State Government?
Earlier Attempts of Manipur Government
- On 12 July, 2012, the State Cabinet under the leadership of the Chief Minister has passed a CABINET RESOLUTION to urge the Government of India to extend the provisions of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations, 1873 to the State of Manipur.
- On 13 July, 2012, in consonance with the public demand for implementation of Inner Line Permit system to regulate inflow of outsiders, the Manipur State Assembly had unanimously passed a resolution to put pressure on the Government of India to extend and adopt the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation- 1873 with necessary changes in the point of details to the state of Manipur.
- On 3rd August, 2012, Dr. J. Suresh Babu, Principal Secretary (Home) in his letter no. 1/1(12) /2011 Home dated 3rd August , 2012 has sent a simple one page request letter to the Home Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India to extend the provisions of Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1873 (BEFR) to the state of Manipur. But there is no evidence of enclosing any background material and justification in his letter for demanding implementation of BEFR-1873.
- On 5th August, 2012 as a reply to the Ministry of Home Affaires Mr. Geoffrey, Joint Secretary – Home, Government of Manipur mentioned in his letter no. 1/1(12)/2011 –Home (PMR-19) dated that “the state did not have ILP system in the past”? Manipur Durbar was having a Pass System from 1901 to 1950. The Government of India has approved retention of the said Permit System in Manipur vide Mr. G.E.D Walker, Advisor to the Governor of Assam letter no. 120/47/C- 26-27 dated 17th January, 1948 and adopted by His Highness, Maharaja of Manipur on 26 February 1948? Every outside migrant from other states was required to take a Pass for entering the geographical boundaries of Manipur. This is one kind of Inner Line Permit System since the permit was required for entering the geographical boundaries of Manipur. Then how and why Mr. Geoffrey mentioned in his letter that “the state did not have ILP system in the past”? The action of Mr. Geoffrey tantamount to sabotaging the State Government’s efforts and hijacking the people’s mass movement is a serous crime which needs exemplary disciplinary action.
What are the essential features of the New Bill?
In this connection, all the essential features of the New Bill has been described in my previous article entitled “Agenda of the Upcoming Manipur State Assembly regarding a New Bill on ILP” which has been published in prominent English newspapers (14-07-2015), E-pao, Manipur Times etc.
The essential features includes (1) Title of the Bill (2) Objectives and Reasons of the Bill (3) Appropriate definition of Permanent Resident with cut off date of 18 November 1950 (date on which Himmat Singh abolished the Permit System ) (4) Compulsory Registration of outside Migrant Workers on payment of prescribed fees with exemption clauses. (5) Penalty and Punishment clauses for delayed registration or non-registration (6) protection of ancestral land of indigenous people (7) Provision for deletion of the names of the migrant workers who entered Manipur after 18 November, 1950 and their descendants from the electoral rolls of Manipur (8) Provision on Ban on employment in Government sector of Outsiders, who entered Manipur after 18 November, 1950 and their descendants. (9) Provision on Ban on joining competitive examinations in higher educational, Technical educational and professional courses for children of Outsiders, who entered Manipur after 18 November, 1950 and their descendants.
If these provisions are not included in the New Bill, it will be incomplete and the indigenous people of Manipur will continue to suffer. Luckily, our Hon’le Chief Minister has expressed his desire to include all the features to satisfy the will of the people.
Proposal of the President, BJP, Manipur
Not a single political party should try to take credit for having passed a bill with all essential features fulfilling the wishes of the people. The state government should work with complete transparency in collaboration with other political parties based on mutual trust. Shri Th. Chaoba Singh, President BJP should be given an important role considering the role, the BJP can play in getting the approval of the Central Government and assent of the president. His suggestions (1) for constituting a drafting committee comprising of Legal Experts, political representatives, civil society representatives, experts, academicians, JCILPS representatives etc (2) holding a State Seminar for 4-5 days where legal experts, civil society representatives, prominent citizens, academicians, women representatives, JCILPS are very appropriate and should be carried out without further delay Shri Th. Chaoba Singh, President BJP may be given the president ship of the drafting committee. The Drafting Committee may invite suggestions in writing from the people within a limited time. If he is given president ship of the drafting committee, it becomes his responsibility to translate it into action.
Engaging a recognized constitutional expert in India will ensure validity, authenticity of the draft and enhance acceptability of the Bill by the Government of India.
The State Government may seriously consider engaging recognized constitutional experts in India like Ram Jethmalani, Harish Salve, Dr. Subhash C. Kashyap, Madhav Khosla etc to guide the drafting committee. The Government of India will respect and take seriously the views of these Constitutional experts. This simple step will enhance authenticity of the draft and the acceptability of the Bill by the Government of India. The report of the Drafting committee should bear the signature and seal of the recognised Constitutional Expert as a Consultant.
Holding a PUBLIC HEARING will ensure mass participation while preparing the draft bill
One of the Civil Societies (UCM, AMUCO) may be given the responsibility of organising a public hearing in collaboration with other prominent civil societies for 2-3 days by making open invitation of about 2000-3000 people at BOAT to solicit the views of the common people and submission of report to the President of the Drafting Committee.
Getting Assent of the Governor of Manipur
After observing the actions of His Excellency, the Governor of Manipur in case of “Manipur Regulation of Visitors, Tenants & Migrant Workers Bill, 2015”, we may anticipate that even if the Manipur State Assembly passed a perfect Bill in fulfillment of the demands of the JCILPS and the wishes of the people incorporating all the essential features, the Governor of Manipur, in all probabilities is likely to refer the Bill to the President of India under Article 201 of the Indian Constitution. My fear is that the President of India may reject the Bill as unconstitutional. We should not forget the comments of and experience with Mr. Sushil Kumar Sinde, the then Union Home Minister, who is reported to have said, “Our Constitution will not allow such things. Any sensible person who believes in the Constitution will not pass such a bill.” Although he is a member of the INC, no Congress leader in Manipur has got the guts and courage to question Mr. Sushil Kumar Sinde. How can Mr. Sinde say that a regulation which is in force in Arunachal, Nagaland, Mizoram be termed as “unconstitutional”.
Getting Assent of the President of India
His Excellency, the President of India may require to be briefed about the need for implementation of the Inner Line Permit System in Manipur to correct the population imbalance and to protect the indigenous people (natives) of Manipur so as to enable him to give the assent. For this, we need to work in unity irrespective political difference in the greater interest of the people.
Just after sending the Bill to the Governor of Manipur , the Presidents and their team of political parties of 282 MPs), Indian National Congress( 44 MPs), All India Trinamool Congress (34 MPs) , Communist Party of India (Marxist) (9 MPs) Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) (6 MPs) should leave Imphal immediately and camped at Delhi to do a lot of advocacy and lobbying with Bharatiya Janata Party the Central Political Leaders to get the assent of the President.
Mr, Th. Chaoba Singh, President of BJP, Manipur with long years of experience enjoying the confidence of Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India and his team should stay in Delhi and convince the Union Home Minister, the Prime Minister, BJP President and the President of India till the President of India signs the Assent. He should not try to shrug off his responsibility on some excuses and political difference. He and his team should not come back to Manipur till the President give his assent. Similarly, all the presidents, secretaries of the Indian National Congress, All India Trinamool Congress, Communist Party of India, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) should leave Manipur and camped in Delhi to advocate and lobby with the national party leaders till the assent of the President is obtained . If they failed to achieve this mission, the people may resort to many unwanted events including ban of national political parties in Manipur etc. We do not want to repeat the mistakes of 18 June, 2001.
What to do if the President of India rejects to give assent to the New Bill
A single team of Manipur under the leadership of Shri O. Ibobi Sngh, Chief Minister of Manipur assisted by Shri Th. Chaoba Singh, President, BJP, presidents, Secretaries of All India Trinamool Congress, NCP and CPI, civil society representatives, constitutional Experts should meet the Union Home Minister, Prime Minister, President of India, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi. All appointments with national leaders should be fixed while they are still in Imphal. Let us shed our ego, pride and arrogance for the sake of people. We may request His Excellency, the Governor of Manipur to work in greater interest of Manipur and meet the national leaders separately. I feel that there is no need for his Excellency to come back to Manipur without fulfilling the wishes of the people.
If the Home Minister, Prime Minister and the President are hell-bent on rejecting the bill, we should exact a promise to support our proposal for amendment of the constitution of India. We may warn them that if they reject all our demands, then there may be burning of Manipur and responsibility should lie with the Government of India.
Demands for Constitutional Amendments
We should have the courage to tell the central leaders that the Government of India has already committed a series of blunders to the people in Manipur during 1949-2001. Referring to the statement of G.K. Pillai, the then Union Home Secretary, which was published on 27 September, 2011 in the Telegraph newspaper, we can say that “ the ancient kingdom of Manipur had a constitution even before India wrote her own and democracy was introduced in Manipur well before India became a democratic country. But Manipur was reduced to a C-category state under the Indian Constitution in 1948. Nagaland was granted Statehood from a village republic in 1963 while Manipur with a proud history of more than 2000 years was granted statehood only in 1972. This blunder of the Government of India has resulted in creating insurgency problem in Manipur. The existing Article 371C of the Indian Constitution is found to be extremely discriminatory and the source of all communal conflicts in Manipur which needs to be amended. The people of Manipur feel that that the Indian Constitution was imposed on Manipur without ratification. Manipur did not participate in the Indian Constitutional debate held during 9th December, 1946 to 24th January, 1950. It was never ratified by the then Manipur State Assembly. Manipur has never asked the Government of India for constitutional amendment during the last 65 years. The Government of India is offering constitutional amendment just to satisfy Muivah, the General Secretary of NSCN-IM whereas we do not have the courage to ask for constitutional amendments.. We strongly feel that only after constitutional amendment, Manipur will be able to bring about communal harmony, unity, equality and solidarity among all ethnic groups of Manipur and achieve peace and development in Manipur. We can further mention that we, the people of Manipur request the Home Minister, Prime Minister, the President of India to find a permanent cure to these past blunders in Manipur and consider amendment of the Indian Constitution. We cannot ask for constitutional amendment off and on. Some civil societies are working on “Territorial Integrity:, some others are working on “ Schedule Tribe Demand “ while JCILPS is working on “ Inner Line Permt System”. All these demands require constitutional amendments. Surprisingly, they never ask for constitutional amendments. Further there are many core issues of Manipur which need constitutional amendments. Considering all these points, our demands for constitutional amendments may include the following:-
Main features of Constitutional Amendments
- The Article 3 of Indian Constitution regarding alteration of state boundaries shall not apply in respect of Manipur to protect the 2000 year old territorial integrity of Manipur. The last experience of Telengana State formation with the blessings of Sonia Gandhi bypassing the state assembly was a very bad example.
- The Union List and Concurrent list under the Indian Constitution pertaining to Manipur shall be taken up by the Government of India only with the concurrence of the State Legislative Assembly
- Since 90% of Manipur is hill area, Manipur may be declared as a Hill State
- All the ethnic groups in Manipur may be brought under an uniform land laws
- Any person from other states of India will be allowed to purchase lands only with the approval of the State Government to protect the indigenous people of Manipur.
- Any person from other states of India shall need an “Inner Line Permit” to enter Manipur on payment of nominal fees to protect the identity, culture, traditions, language, script of the Manipuris. Manipur welcomes all people from other states to visit Manipur. This will have retrospective effect since 18 November, 1950.
- The Constitution should provide establishment of an upper house (Legislative Council) with a minimum of 40 members with 10 seats reserved for nomination.
8 The Number of Rajya Sabha MPs should be increased to seven (7) on the basis of equal representation of states as done in USA and other countries. Large and small states should be treated at par in the Rajya Sabha or Council of States.
- The followers of Pakhangba – Sanamahi religion may be included under “Scheduled Tribe category” of the Indian Constitution to restore equality among the ethnic groups.
- The Manipuri script (Meitei Mayek) should be included in the coins and currency bank notes
If the Home Minister, Prime Minister, the President of India fails to assure the constitutional amendment within a time frame even up to the last moment, the JCILPS in collaboration with other civil societies may launch a more serious, more severe, more intensive mass movement with the people of Manipur including non-cooperation, civil disobedience to achieve our goal. Our Political Leaders may take this single agenda issue with the Central Leaders. Our Chief Ministers with his MLAs and thousands of volunteers may launch a Dharna at the Jantar Mantar till the demand is given.
MBBS, MHA(AIIMS), M.A (Leeds/UK), HSMC( IHF/London), CCAE( Chula/Bangkok), PDCE (UCLA/USA)
Former Medical Superintendent , JNIMS, Ex-Consultant, NACO, Government of India
Southern Palace Compound, Palace Road, Imphal , Manipur
The writer can be reached at- [email protected]