The All Tribal Students' Union, Manipur (ATSUM) on Monday demanded the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) chairman to issue necessary clarifications over the alleged statement by the latter "pertaining to the ongoing movement of the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill 2021".
According to the ATSUM, the HAC chairman circulated in social media and local media on August 21, 2022 "whereby he deliberately misled the people of the state pertaining to the ongoing movement of ATSUM and tribal people demanding the introduction of the HAC recommended 'The Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill 2021' in the Manipur Legislative Assembly.
In a statement, the tribal student body said that the movement/demand of ATSUM since the past 12 months starting from August 2021 till today is all about extension of support to the recommendation of the legislators (HAC Members).
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The ATSUM further said that it has no personal or vested interest in the movement. It also said that it is only supporting the bill unanimously recommended by the HAC on August 16, 2021.
"It is unfortunate to learn that the hon'ble chairman of HAC is alleging the ongoing movement as incited by a group of vested interest individuals or organisations. Rather, the ATSUM would like to ask the hon'ble chairman, HAC to clear his statement whether it is his own self interest or the resolution of the incumbent HAC members?", the ATSUM asked.
The ATSUM then said that, in India, "as the legislative supremacy prevails in all accounts and as empowered by the law", the HAC members across all political parties line, including the Bharatiya Janata Party of which the incumbent chairman of HAC belongs, unanimously recommended a landmark bill called "the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill 2021" on August 16, 2021 under the chairmanship of Leishiyo Keishing.
The bill aimed to strengthen the Autonomous District Councils and ensure equity in development in the state of Manipur permissible under Article 371C of Indian Constitution read with the Manipur Legislative (HAC) Orders 1972.
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"And, the ATSUM, being an organisation striving to ensure law of land to prevail in the state, has been supporting the legislators' recommendation with no personal or hidden agenda for the past 12 months," it stated.
"By supporting the recommendation of the elected and mandated members of HAC of which the incumbent chairman is occupying the chair now, is the doing of the ATSUM or pursuing an unconstitutional or self interest act? Is the ATSUM wrong in supporting the supremacy of the legislative (HAC)? How the incumbent hon'ble chairman of HAC could contradict the decision of the chair which he is occupying?" the tribal student body further asked.
The statement of the tribal student body then said, "It is worth reminding that after the unanimous recommendation of the ADC Bill 2021 on August 16, 2021 by the HAC, a number of HAC meetings had been convened and asked the state government to convene Special Manipur Legislative Assembly Session to introduce and pass the recommended ADC Bill 2021 into an Act. Therefore, the incumbent hon'ble chairman of HAC is reminded to refer back to the proceedings of meetings of HAC dated 16th August 2021 and other succeeding meetings to equip himself of the subject matter".
According to the ATSUM, it is a well known fact that the "so called the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council (Sixth Amendment) Bill 2022 and the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council (Seventh Amendment) Bill 2022 are handiworks of the executives to thwart the legislative procedures, where as the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill 2021 is a landmark bill unanimously recommended under a permissible legislative procedures by the HAC of which the incumbent hon'ble chairman is occupying the chair now".
It then asked, "Therefore, is it becoming for the incumbent chairman of HAC to subscribe to the bills drafted by the executives and disown the legitimate Bill which was recommended by the chair he is occupying?"
According to the ATSUM, it has to be known that the legislature is always supreme over the executive in the legislation of law. It will not be wrong to say that the crux of the impasse today is that while the ATSUM is supporting the constitutionally mandated recommendation of the legislators, the HAC chairman is supporting the executives, disowning his own constitutional obligations, the tribal student body added.
The statement then said that the ATSUM and the tribal people of the state are asking neither the patronage of anyone nor trying to snatch the rights of other communities but only asking for the introduction of the HAC recommended "the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill 2021" in the Manipur Legislative Assembly and passing of the same into an act which will ensure equity in development in the state of Manipur.
"The hon'ble chairman of HAC may clear the doubts of everyone whether the statement he made in the media is his personal interest or the official resolution of the Hill Areas Committee, so that, accordingly the ATSUM and the tribal people will decide the fate of the ongoing movement," it further added.