Newmai News Network
Senapati | July 29
The All Naga Students’ Association, Manipur (ANSAM) has urged Manipur Governor, Dr Najma Heptulla not to give her assent to The Manipur People Bill No-10, 2018. It urged the Governor to return the Bill to the Assembly for consideration with respect to Section 10 and 11, clause (i) of Section 2, clause (3) of section 4 or reserved for consideration of the President of India in order to protect the social custom, exploitation, landed property and forest of the tribal of Manipur so as to fulfill the spirit and intention of the framer of the Constitution and to attract Para 9 of Manipur Legislative Assembly (HAC), Order 1972.
According to ANSAM, the tribals of Manipur are claiming that their land, forest and economy are protected under the provision of Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 and that a law prohibiting transfer of land belonging to Scheduled Tribe (ST) to a non-tribal is valid in favour of ST in the State of Manipur as reported in the AIR 1985 SC 389. The Naga student body also said that the inherent right of the tribal land and forest is protected by “our social custom” and has been guaranteed under Article 371C of the Constitution of India. It however said that without following the due process of law, the protection of land and forest has been taken away by Section 10 and 11 of the said Bill.
The ANSAM, in reference to Section 2 (i) of the Bill, said that there must be specific cut-off year with respect to deciding the matter of citizens. It however said that in the case at hand, whether 1950 or 1951 or 1956 or 2011 and or amendment from time to time is too vague and ambiguous which cannot be acted upon. Further, according to the ANSAM, Section 2 (i) has failed to define the meaning of “Manipur people and the native people of Manipur” on historical basis. The definition of native people has been done casually without intensive deliberation on historical basis and this has confused the public, it stated.
The association also said that the power and functions of the Autonomous District Council (ADC) is embodied under Section 29 of the District Council (Hill Areas) Act, 1971 and the 3rd Amendment Act, 2008. “And that the power and functions of the Village Authorities are also guaranteed under the Manipur (Village Authorities) Act, 1956. As such, without amending the said ADC Act as well as the Village Authority Act the Village Authorities and the District Councils cannot discharge their duties delegated under this Bill in question. Therefore, the bill is so contradictory in nature,” ANSAM added.
It further stated that it is a direct challenge to the prevailing social customs of the hill people “because due to the impugned Bill the age old customs of protecting land and forest in the hill areas is no more seen. In fact the Section 10 ad 11 has arbitrary taken away the inherent rights of the tribals.”
The Naga student body also stated that in the “past histories any Centre agencies/ co-operations/ authorities/ multi- national companies have no right to interfere in the inherent rights and Interests or title in land within the territory of Manipur.”
“In fact, the land owners have the absolute right over the land and forest in the hill areas or the communities have common land which cannot be arbitrarily interfered by the Village Authority or District Council without the consent of the land owner under the prevailing customs,” it said.
Expressing surprise that the bill was referred to the HAC within a limited time period of one day, ANSAM stated in such cases ordinarily three months period should be granted. The bill, it maintained, was introduced and passed in haphazard way in Manipur Legislative Assembly without due process of Article 371C of the Constitution.
“At this juncture Her Excellency may attract the Special Provision guaranteed under Para 9 of Manipur Legislative Assembly (Hill Areas) Order 1972, in order to secure the proper functioning of HAC,” the ANSAM further said.
The association noted that it is mandatory to make report to the President of India as guaranteed under clause (ii) of Article 371C regarding the administration of hill areas in the State of Manipur, which it urgently called for.
“The land and forest in the hill areas is protected by virtue of Article 26 (i), (ii) and (iii) of the United Nation Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People adopted by General Assembly Resolution 61/295 on 13th Sept. 2007 to which India is also a signatory,” ANSAM said.
It then claimed that the principle of natural justice to the stakeholders and land owners were not afforded at the event of passing the said Bill. “We see only tears and sorrow and becoming strangers upon our own land. Hence, this memorandum.”