Manipur State Constitution Act-1947
A Cure for all myriads of ailments in Manipur ?
- Part 1 -

Dr. Khomdon Lisam *

Many books and articles on the Constitutional Assembly of India, Manipur State Constitution Act (MSCA) -1947, Instrument of Accession, Standstill Agreement, Manipur Merger Agreement etc have been published by various experts, historians, researchers, academicians, lawyers, members of Civil Societies( CSOs), Columnists etc during the last 30 years or so. These books and articles have given food for thought for all Manipuris as to how to continue the fight for revival of the operation of the Manipur State Constitution Act-1947 to restore peace, mutual love, mutual trust, communal harmony in Manipur.

The Government of India had played the role of proverbial monkey mediating between the two cats fighting over the division of a piece of bread. Ultimately the monkey ends up eating the entire piece of bread alone and the cats get nothing. Unfortunately, the national political parties and national leaders in India created mutual hatred, ethnic clash, ethnic cleansing, riots among the minority communities . The so called national leaders of India used this strategy since 1946 till date to keep us divided.

The Constitution of India has been framed in such a manner that the Government of India can divide or disintegrate any state, can make any smaller ethnic group extinct in their own soil as happened in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The tragedy is that this is happening in the name of secularism, democracy and in the name of Indian Constitution. The Indian Constitution is not appropriate for a small state like Manipur. One pertinent question is " Why do Manipur becomes a melting pot after merger to India." Almost all the issues and problems of Manipur are the making of the Indian Constitution. All these issues and problems of Manipur will disappear once we revive the operation of the Manipur State Constitution Act-1947.

Today Manipur is burning. We have to find appropriate remedy to prevent any possible bloodshed. The volcano may erupt any moment because of wrong policies of the Government of India. We should stop blaming each other Oracles say:-" the eastern doors will be opened and western doors will be closed". Now all prophesies are becoming true.

This golden land of Manipur had suffered many attacks from outsiders on many occasions. Every time we have succeeded. We have survived for more than 2000 years. We are going to survive another 2000 years. India has survived only 71 years whereas the Manipur has survived for more than 2000 years. The Golden Manipur will not perish from the surface of the earth in vain. Lord Mountbatten once questioned himself " Is the newly created India going to survive for 100 years ?".

We will build not only a sustainable economy but an advanced economy based on modern technology with the strength of our youth who will be working in high positions in many trades all over the world. One man alone can not fight the future. Let us unite and work together to achieve revival of MSCA-1947. Then there will be no turning back .Let us unite for a change for the better.

Let us first revisit the Manipur State Constitution Act-1947:-

We can start our discussion from the statement of Mr. G.K. Pillai, retired Union Home Secretary, which was published on 27 September, 2011 in the Telegraph newspaper. According to him, "the repeal of the draconian act AFSPA -1958 was one of the first steps towards resolving the vexed conflict of Manipur's valley and hills". He said that " the ancient kingdom of Manipur had a constitution even before India wrote her own and had a proud history and was overnight turned into a C-category state in 1948. He further added " we have to build trust by dealing with the core issues . An apology , say by the Prime Minister or the Home Minister, for the past mistakes could be a start". This is a very bold and forceful statement. But unfortunately this bold, statement has no impact in Manipur.,

According to Manipur State Gazette Notification of dated 2 January, 1947, His Highness, the Maharajah of Manipur was pleased to enact the Manipur State Constitution Act (MSCA), 1947 on 1 January, 1947, The price of the Gazette was Rs. 1 (one rupee) only per copy to be head of the State Library , Imphal , L.G. Singh , Supdt State Press.

But there are many sources who said that "On 12 December 1946, Maharajah Bodhchandra issued a Royal Order constituting a Constitution Making Committee chaired by F.F. Pearson, Political Agent and President of the Manipur State Darbar. Muhammad Saleh Akbar Hydari, Governor of Assam (4 May 1947 - 28 December 1948), who was the representative of British Crown in India approved the Constitution Making Committee proposed by the Maharajah of Manipur. The approval of the Constitution Making Committee by the then Governor of Assam acting as the representative of the British Crown in India was something which could not be erased by any order having retrospective effect from 3 June 1947.

The same source said "The Constitution Making Committee led by its Chairman F.F. Pearson was inaugurated on 10 March 1947. The members were- 1. F.F. Pearson, Chairman 2. S. Somorendro Singh, 3. Md. Kazi Walliullah (representing the Darbar) 4. L.M. Ibungohal Singh (Chief Court). 5.. Bijoy Singh (Jiribam), 6. A. Ibotombi Singh (alias Minaketon)(non-official), 7.H.Dwijamani Dey Sharma,8.Dr. L. Leiren Singh, 9. L. Jogeswar Singh,10. S. Krishnamohon Singh 11.Mera Jatra, (five representatives of the valley), 12.Daiho, 13.Thangkhopao Kipgen, 14.Tiangkham, 15. Teba Kilong, and 16.R. Suisa, (five representatives of the hills)".

Further the same source added "The Manipur State Constitution Act, 1947 was passed on 8 May, 1947 and the Constitution was adopted on 26 July 1947. The passing of the Manipur State Constitution Act (MSCA), 1947 in May before the date of 3rd June 1947 is something very unpleasant to those working for the Merger of Manipur to India. After adoption of the Manipur State Constitution Act (MSCA), 1947, the Maharajah became the Constitutional Ruler when he devolved his powers to the newly established Manipur State Council and Manipur State Legislative Assembly. He was no longer the absolute monarch.

The administration of hill areas , which was earlier carried out by the President of the Manipur State Darbar (PMSD) on behalf of the His Highness was brought under the Maharajah's control by passing the Manipur Hill People's (Administration) Regulation -1947. The Maharajah abolished the Darbar and brought in a setup called His Highness in Council similar to the Governor General in Council.. The PMSD was designated as Chief Minister and Darbar members as Ministers. Mr. F.F Pearson IPS the then British PMSD became the first Chief Minister of Manipur on 1 July, 1947. When Mr. Pearson left Manipur on 14 August, 1947, Rajkumar Priyabrata Singh became the Chief Minister of Manipur.

Under Chapter-II, Section (b) of the Manipur State Constitution Act, 1947 the Maharajah of Manipur is defined as the Constitutional Head of the State. The Administration and the Executive Authority of the State is delegated to the Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers shall be responsible for the welfare and good administration of the Hill people of the State. The Council of Ministers shall consists of the Chief Minister and six other Ministers.

Under chapter -III (16) of the Constitution, it is mentioned :- "A Minister of the Council shall not be removable from office except in accordance with the provisions of the Chapter IV" .

Under chapter -IV (17). It is mentioned :-"There shall be constituted a State Assembly…The Assembly shall be ….. Elected for a period of three years … elected by the people on adult franchise as may be laid down under rules for the elections……the Representatives returnable from General, Hill and Mohammedan constituencies in the ratio of 30:18:3 respectively….. with an additional two seats for the representatives of Educational and Business interests".

The Chapter V (26) of the Manipur State Constitution Act, 1947 says:-,

" The Law Making Authority in the state shall consists of the Maharajah in Council in collaboration with the State Assembly acting under section 18 above ".

The Manipur State Hill Peoples (Administration) Regulation -1947 was also passed on the same day".

When Manipur regained sovereign status in the midnight of 14 August, 1947, the Manipur State Constitution Act (MSCA) -1947 was already in operation. As the Governor-General of India or Assam Governor could not revoke any previous order to bring into halt the operation of the laws in force in Manipur. In fact the famous Indian Leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru , Sardar Patel could not find a way to repeal or dissolve or abrogate the MSCA-1947.

The section 9 (5) of Indian Independence Act, 1947 says " No order shall be made under this section, by the Governor of :any Province, after the appointed day, or, by the Governor-General, after the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and forty-eight, or such earlier date as may be determined, in the case of either Dominion,. by 'any law of the Legislature of that Dominion." . Thus the retrospective effect of any order made under section 9 of the Indian Independence Act, 1947 could not remove the Manipur State Constitution Act (MSCA), 1947.

The section 8 of the Instrument of Accession says clearly " Nothing in this instrument affects the continuance of my sovereignty in and over the state or save as provided by or under the Instrument, the exercise of any power , authority and rights now enjoyed by me as Ruler of this State or validity of any law at present in force in this State." This means that Manipur was still enjoying the sovereignty and the Manipur State Constitution Act-1947 enacted on 1 January, 1947 was still in force.

Together with section 8 of the Instrument of Accession signed by Maharajah Bodhchandra on 11 August, 1947, the Manipur State Constitution Act (MSCA), 1947 was in force in Manipur with the terms of the Instrument protecting the Manipur State Constitution Act from erosion.

Manipur State Constitution Act (MSCA)-1947 was never repealed or dissolved by the Indian Parliament or by the Manipur State Assembly. It is still a living document.

To be continued....

* Dr. Khomdon Lisam wrote this article for
The writer is MBBS, MHA(AIIMS), M.A (Leeds/UK), HSMC( IHF/London), CCAE( Chula/Bangkok) PDCE (UCLA/USA) and Former Medical Superintendent , JNIMS, Ex-Consultant, NACO, Ex-Project Director (MACS)
The writer can be reached at khomdon(DOT)lisam(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
This article was posted on June 26, 2018.

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