The All Tribal Students' Union Manipur (ATSUM) has urged the hill people not to cooperate with the present delimitation exercise being taken up in the run-up to the ensuing Autonomous District Council elections.
It also appealed to the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) to immediately cease the alleged unconstitutional and unmandated procedure contradicting and demeaning the purpose of the HAC.
ATSUM stated in a release that 14 tribal former parliamentarians comprising former MPs, former ministers, former MLAs and former members of the HAC had sought the intervention of President Droupadi Murmu in connection with the violation of the provisions of the Constitution of India, particularly Article 371C by the Manipur government.
Subsequently, the state government has been asked to get the matter examined and forwarded a reply on priority regarding the three controversial bills, namely, Bill No 14 - The Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (Seven Amendment) Bill 2022; Bill No 15 - The Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council’s (Sixth Amendment) Bill, 2022 and Bill No. 16 - The Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council’s (Seventh Amendment) Bill 2022, introduced during the last assembly session, it added.
The student body also stated that in a memorandum submitted to the President of India on August 10, 2022, the tribal ex-parliamentarians had raised serious concerns regarding the unconstitutional procedures and violation of constitutional provisions during the second session of the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly.
The tribal ex-parliamentarians had apprised the President of India that the three bills, namely, Bill No. 14, the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (Seventh Amendment) Bill 2022; Bill No.15, The Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council’s (Sixth Amendment) Bill 2022, and Bill No. 16, The Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council’s (Seventh Amendment) Bill 2022 had bypassed the interest of the hill people and shifted the authority of the district council to the state government and undermined its mandate.
It stated that the Sixth Amendment was unconstitutionally passed in the guise of a Money Bill and instead of tabling the already recommended bill, the government had referred a new bill to the HAC.
"Such attempts of forcefully overlooking the constitutional rights of HAC stated in the scheduled matters and directly shifting the mandate of the autonomous district council to the State Government can only be done through a constitutional amendment and not by a mere State Assembly since this provision is given through Article 371 C", it added.
Meanwhile, ATSUM stated that the erstwhile “The Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill 2021 was unanimously recommended by the HAC following the rules of procedure, yet, the State Government had without any stated mandate kept the recommended bill in abeyance and introduced another bill that was not recommended by the HAC”.
Such blatant overriding of Rules of Procedures and Conduct of Business rightly requires rectification through the intervention of the President, ATSUM said while highly applauding the new President of India for promptly stepping in and initiating action to safeguard the constitutional provisions.
It further stated that they hope the unconstitutional hegemonic procedures inside the state Assembly would be promptly rectified and that this would remain a deterrent.
ATSUM also urged the state government again to respect the constitutional rights of the hill people and table the ADC Bill 2021 as assured through a Memorandum of Understanding dated November 25, 2021 signed between the State Government and Tribal Students’ Organisations represented by ATSUM, ANSAM, and KSO-GHQ.
Considering all the circumstances, ATSUM appeal to the hill people not to partake in the ongoing delimitation exercise alleging that it would shut the doors of our constitutional rights forever while also appealing to the HAC to immediately cease this unconstitutional and un-mandated procedure contradicting and demeaning the purpose of the HAC.