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Inner Line Permit in Manipur: Supreme Court seeks response from Centre, state government

A PIL challenged the inner line permit system, contending that it provides unbridled power to the State to restrict entry and exit of non-indigenous persons or those who are not permanent residents of Manipur.

ByIFP Bureau

Updated on 5 Jan 2022, 6:59 am

Supreme Court of India (PHOTO: WikimediaCommons)

Supreme Court of India (PHOTO: WikimediaCommons)

The Supreme Court of India has sought the response of the Central government and the Manipur government to a plea challenging the Inner Line Permit System (ILPS) in Manipur.

The SC on Monday agreed to hear a PIL challenging the ILPS in Manipur and issued notice to the Centre and the state government on the plea alleging that extension of the 140-year-old Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 is "reminiscent of the colonial oppression and discrimination". 

The plea by an organisation Amra Bangalee challenged the permit system contending that it provides unbridled power to the State to restrict entry and exit of non-indigenous persons or those who are not permanent residents of Manipur.

"The draconian ILP system is fundamentally opposed to the policies of social integration, development and technological advancement in the area beyond the Inner Line, apart from hampering tourism within the state, which is a major source of revenue generation for these areas," the petition stated.

A Bench of Justices Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari issued notice in the matter and posted it for hearing after four weeks.

The Inner Line Permit System was introduced by way of the Adaptation of Laws (Amendment) Order, 2019 (2019 order) which extends 140-year-old "colonial legislation" Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations, 1873 (BEFR).

The BEFR was enacted by the British to create monopoly over the tea plantations in Assam (then part of Bengal) and to protect its commercial interests in other hilly areas, the petitioner stated.

The BEFR prohibits Indians from engaging in trade with the tribal populace in the areas contained in the preamble of the BEFR.

By virtue of the 2019 order, the ILPS has effectively been made applicable to the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram and districts of Nagaland which are notified from time to time.

"The effect of ILP system in the State of Manipur is that no person who is not a resident of the said State is permitted to enter the State or engage in business there without applying for a special permit known as Inner Line Permit," the petition said.

By way of the adaptation order, the law continues till today in the "guise" of protecting the interests of tribal areas, it submitted.

The petitioner filed through Advocate Fuzail Ahmed Ayyubi also challenged the Manipur Inner Line Permit Guidelines, 2019.

The plea stated that the 2019 order violates fundamental rights of citizens guaranteed under Articles 14, 15, 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution since it grants unqualified power to the state for restricting the entry and exit of non-indigenous persons.

The ILPS came into effect in Manipur on January 1, 2020. ILP is a document that Indian citizens from other states are required to possess in order to enter the state. In Manipur, four types of permits are issued — temporary, regular, special and labour permits. Initially, these permits were issued manually at seven counters at different entry points, including Imphal airport. However, to do away with the hassle faced by travellers in applying for the permit, the state government launched an online portal in February 2020.

First published:4 Jan 2022, 11:49 am

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IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur

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