Imphal Municipal Council (Registration and Licencing) Bye Laws, 1998
– Purpose and legality thereof -

L Nandakumar Singh *

The Imphal Municipal Council (Registration and Licencing) Bye Laws, 1998 was made under clause (i) of sub-section (1) of Sec 209 read with Sec. 78 and sub-section (2) of Section 75 of the Manipur Municipalities Act, 1994 after having gone through necessary process – vide the IMC Notification dated the 5th January, 1999 published in the Manipur Gazette (Extraordinary) bearing No. 328 dated January 19, 1999. And the said Bye-Laws extend to the whole area of Imphal Municipal Council.

Under these Bye Laws, every shops or establishments within the Imphal Municipal area are required to get registered at the office of the Imphal Municipal Council, without which no one can run the shop/establishment as laid down in clause 3(i) of the Bye Laws.

Further, no one is allowed to run a shop within the Municipality area, without a “shop licence” to be issued by the Imphal Municipal Council, as laid down in clause 4(a) of the said Bye Laws. The fee prescribed for registration, for doing business can be up to Rs. 2000/- and fee for licence for a year can be up to Rs. 1,000/- depending on the value/amount of business. And fines in respect of registration and licence can go up to Rs.3,000/-and Rs. 1,500/- respectively.

Penalty for violation of its provision is Rs. 200/- and for its continuance is Rs. 100 each day. For the purpose of registration and shop licence one has to submit a number of documents including Lease Deed, patta, no-objection certificate, Udyog-Aadhaar, Fire Safety certificate from Manipur Fire Service, etc. One can get a Fire Safety certificate, if a Fire Extinguisher Unit is purchased from the Manipur Fire Service office as expressed by shop owners who have obtained the shop-licence already.

In pursuance of the said Bye-laws, the Imphal Municipal Corporation officials, accompanied by armed Police personals made many shops without shop licences from IMC to close down, which the public/citizens are quite aware of. This drive from IMC has been directed against shops in the Imphal bazaar area of Thangal bazaar, B T Road, MG Avenue, Paona road only so far. Other areas under the Imphal Municipal area are not affected.

On the other hand, the Manipur Shops and Establishments Act, 1972 (Manipur Act 4 of 1973) was enacted and published in Manipur Gazette extraordinary bearing No. 179 dated 23.03.1973 which was further amended by the Manipur Shops and Establishments (Amendment) Act, 1992. This Act extends to the whole of the State of Manipur.

It is mandatory for every shop or establishment in the State to get registered under this Act which is to be renewed for every calendar year. After due registration of the shop/establishment, the Registering authority issues a certificate of Registration or renewal certificate as the case may be, under the Act.

Now, some pertinent questions among others in this regard, which I would like to place before the esteemed readers and general public, for their considered views, are as follows:

1) Can the Imphal Municipal Council frame Bye-laws so as to empower itself to carry out or do something which is not authorised or conferred expressly by the Manipur Municipalities Act 1994?

2) Are the shops and establishments within the Imphal Municipal area subject to registration under two different authorities – one under the Manipur Shops and Establishments Act, 1992 as amended up to date and another under the Imphal Municipal Council (Registration and Licencing of Shops) Bye-laws 1998? And what are the purposes and object of the Imphal Municipal Council making the Bye-laws for making shops and establishments registered with them?

I wish to share my views with the esteemed readers on these two pertinent issues/questions.

1) As regards the first question, the position is that a Municipality may frame Bye-laws under Sec. 209 of the Manipur Municipalities Act 1994. But the Bye-laws should be consistent with the provisions of the said Act and rules made thereunder and it should be only for the purposes specified in clauses (i) to (xxvii) of sub-sec (1) of Sec. 209 of the Act including any matter in respect of which power to frame Bye-laws is conferred expressly on the Municipality under the Act as laid down in the aforesaid clause (i).

But sadly, in the present case of the IMC Bye-laws 1998, no such power to make bye-laws to prohibit running of shops or establishments without getting registered with the IMC and without shop licences from them, was given to it (IMC) under Sec. 209 or any other section of the Manipur Municipalities Act. As such, the IMC has framed and issued the said Bye-laws 1998 without any authority and power and in doing so, it has abused its functions and powers rendering the same i.e. the Bye-laws invalid and illegal.

The said IMC Bye-laws further prescribe fees for registration and licence of the shops and also fines for violation of its provisions. IMC will have no authority/power to impose fines for violation of any provision of the Bye-laws which was made without any authority, and without disclosing the specific purpose for which it was made.

The said Bye-laws of IMC is said to have been notified and brought into force after having been confirmed by the Government of Manipur as required under sub-sec (2) of Sec. 211 of the Manipur Municipalities Act. But the confirmation may be cancelled by the Government under sub-section 3 of the said section 211.

2) As regards the second question, the fact remains that the Manipur Shops and Establishments Act 1972 as amended in 1992 which extends to the whole of the State of Manipur makes it mandatory for every shop or establishment to get registered under the Act. and prescribes fees for registration and certificate of Registration. This Act has been in force for the past many years and since then all shops and establishments within the purview of the Act have been controlled and regulated under this Act.

Under these two parallel laws mentioned above the shops/establishments within the Imphal Municipality are required to get registered under two authorities – one under the Imphal Municipal Council Bye-laws and another under the Manipur Shops and Establishments Act 1972 and get licence/certificate from two different authorities for running a business. Now the question arises as to who is the controlling authority of the shops and establishments within the Imphal Municipal area. This has to be viewed as an Act vs a Bye-law situation.

An Act is a law passed by the Parliament or a State Assembly and assented to by the President or Governor concerned. Whereas, Bye-laws are laws, regulations and rules made under an Act and Rules framed thereunder, meant for government of members of a body like corporations and it must be intra-vires the authority who makes it. So the said IMC Bye-laws can be binding only within the corporation and not beyond. The functions and duties of the Municipality are specified in the Manipur Municipalities Act 1994.

Obligatory functions of the Municipality as laid down in Sec. 37 of the said Act includes
i) lighting public roads and places,
ii) cleaning public roads, places and sewers not being private property,
iii) extinguishing fires and protecting life and property,
iv) constructing, altering and maintaining public roads, culverts, markets, drains, etc,
v) constructing public latrines, privies and urinals,
vi) naming streets and numbering houses,
vii) registering births and deaths and other activities of similar nature.

The special duties assigned to a Municipality as laid down in Sec. 38 of the Act, include
i) providing special medical aid and accommodation in times of outbreak of dangerous disease,
ii) providing relief works, in times of famine, etc.

Further, a Municipality may exercise certain discretionary functions as provided under Sec. 39 of the said Act. by way of providing out of the municipal property and fund for a number of works/services and activities including
i) laying out new public roads and acquiring land for the purpose,
ii) planting and maintaining trees on the road sides,
iii) public health and infant welfare,
iv) organisation or maintenance of shops or stalls for the sale of necessities of life,
v) maintenance of ambulance service, public hospitals and dispensaries and providing medical service and other public welfare activities.

But these discretionary functions are to be carried out, at its discretion and with funds provided out of the Municipal fund and property, either wholly or partly. It is clear and unquestionable that the Municipality cannot extend its control and administration over properties and/or establishments of private individuals except with some specific authorisation under the Manipur Municipalities Act.

A Municipality may frame Bye-laws only for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the Manipur Municipalities Act 1994. No Bye-laws can be made to carry out or do something for which there is no specific provision in the Act.

The Imphal Municipal Council (Registration and Licencing) Bye Laws 1998 was made without any authority under the Manipur Municipalities Act 1994 and hence in violation of the Act, for the sole purpose of collecting fees and fines from owners of shops and establishments without provision for any service in return.

It will be in the best interest of the general public if the concerned authorities look into the matter and consider cancellation of the confirmation, if any, of the said Bye-laws under Sec.211 (3) of the Manipur Municipalities Act.

* L Nandakumar Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer can be reached at lnkumar44(AT)gmail(DOT))com
This article was webcasted on September 23, 2018.

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