Reaffirming the pledge taken in its second General Assembly on July 15, 2022, at Haipi village in Kangpokpi District, the All Tribal Students' Union Manipur and its federating units apprised Manipur Governor La Ganesan through a memorandum on two pertinent matters.
The tribal student's apex body apprised the governor for immediate withdrawal of the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council (Sixth Amendment) Bill 2022, which has now become an Act, as it is 'not a Money Bill'.
ATSUM also drew the Governor’s attention to convene a 'Special Session' of the Manipur Legislative Assembly to table and discuss the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council Bill, 2021.
With "non reference of Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council (Sixth Amendment) Bill, 2022 to the Hill Areas Committee by deceitfully presenting it as a Money Bill, contrary to the provisions of Constitution of India, and, for convening a Special Session of the House to table and discuss the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council Bill 2021" as the subject, the memorandum was signed by ATSUM president Paotinthang Lupheng and and General Secretary SR. Andria.
It stated that the memorandum was submitted to prevent the violation of the special provisions provided under the Constitution of India for the protection of the Hill Areas of the State of Manipur.
While apprising the Governor, ATSUM stated that the Government of Manipur has tried to bypass the acts/provisions envisaged for safeguarding the interests of peoples of the Hill Areas of Manipur by passing of a Bill wholly affecting and relating to the Hill Areas of State of Manipur, i.e. the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council (Sixth Amendment) Bill, 2022 ( Bill No. 15 of 2022) (Said Bill) as a money bill despite the fact that the amendments passed in the Said Bill does not deal with any tax, money from the contingency fund of the State, declaration of any expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of the State i.e. matters spelt out in the definition of Money Bills in Article 199 of the Constitution of India.
It is pertinent to mention here that the said Bill is the exact copy of the The Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils (Sixth Amendment) Ordinance, 2021 amending the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act, 1971 (Act No.76 of 1971) which was placed before the Hill Areas Committee of Manipur (HAC) for consideration as per law and which the Hill Areas Committee refused to entertain but eventually the same was withdrawn by the Government of Manipur itself in the year 2021, it added.
It also stated that during the recently concluded Assembly Session, the same ordinance mentioned above was masqueraded as a money bill (Bill No. 15 of 2022) and presented in the House in order to bypass the requirement of placing it before HAC. As per the provisions of Manipur Legislative Assembly (Hill Areas Committee) Order, 1972 (Presidential Order of 1972), read with Article 371C of the Constitution of India, every bill other than a Money Bill affecting the Hill Areas of Manipur be referred to the HAC for consideration and only on being recommended by the HAC it may be passed by the Assembly.
While highlighting a brief factual matrix of the provisions affecting Manipur, ATSUM stated that in the year 1971 Article 371C was inserted in the Constitution of India by way of the Constitution (Twenty-seventh Amendment) Act, 1971.
The said Article 371C provides for Special provision with respect to the State of Manipur. As per the said Article 371C, the President was empowered to issue an order with respect to the State of Manipur, providing for the constitution and functioning of a committee of the Legislative Assembly of the State consisting of members of that Assembly elected only from the Hill Areas of Manipur. The Constitution (Twenty-seventh Amendment) Act, 1971 was brought into effect on 15.02.1972.
On March 13, 1972, the Parliament passed the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act, 1971(1971 Act) [which is being amended herein by the Said Bill i.e. Bill No. 15 of 2022] providing for establishment of District Councils in the Hill Areas of Manipur. The 1971 Act has been amended several times, one of them being in the year 2008, the present operational Act.
On June 20, 1972, the President of India in exercise of the powers conferred under Article 371C of the Constitution of India, passed the Manipur Legislative Assembly (Hill Areas Committee) Order, 1972 (Presidential Order of 1972). The Presidential Order of 1972 provided for the constitution of the Hill Areas Committee and also listed down the matters that shall fall within the purview of the Hill Areas Committee, it noted.