TODAY -

Understanding Hill Areas Committee and ADC Bill

Ngaranmi Shimray *



Under Article 371C of the Constitution of India a special provision with respect to the State of Manipur was made providing for
(i) constitution and functions of a committee of the Legislative Assembly of the State consisting of members of that Assembly elected from the Hill Areas of that State,
(ii) for the modifications to be made in the rules of business of the Government and
(iii) modifications in the rules of procedure of the Legislative Assembly of the State and
(iv) for any special responsibility of the Governor in order to secure the proper functioning of such committee.

Recent news indicate that the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council Bill, which was drafted, approved by the last Hill Areas Committee (HAC) is being introduced by the State Govt in the ensuing Assembly session. Apprehensions have been felt that the Bill could be referred to the Select Committee of the Assembly.

This article proposes to explain that the HAC is the Select Committee as far as legislations for the Hill Areas of Manipur is concerned. The HAC is a creation of Article 371C of the Constitution of India which provides for a Special provision with respect to the State of Manipur for the Hill Areas of Manipur with several functions; the first being under paragraph 4(1) of The Manipur Legislative Assembly (Hill Areas Committee) Order, 1972" which states -Function of the Hill Areas Committee :- (1) "All Scheduled matters in so far as they relate to the Hill Areas shall be within the purview of the Hill Areas Committee."

The function is very clear as the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council Bill is applicable only in the Hill Areas and hence it falls within the purview of the HAC. Second, paragraph 4(2) of The Manipur Legislative Assembly (Hill Areas Committee) Order, 1972 provides that "Every Bill, other than a Money Bill, affecting wholly or partly the Hill Areas and containing mainly provisions dealing with any of the Scheduled matters shall, after introduction in the Assembly, be referred to the Hill Areas Committee for consideration and report to the Assembly.

Provided that if any question arises whether a Bill attracts the provisions of this sub-paragraph or not, the question shall be referred to the Governor and his decision thereon shall be fmal". The proposed Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council Bill is applicable only to the Hill Areas and affects only the Hill Areas. The word "wholly" is relevant and it does not attract the word "partly".

Hence the provision "with such variations as may be necessary in its application to the Hill Areas" is not attracted as it is not partly applicable but wholly applicable to the Hill Areas and does not apply to any other parts (non-Hill Areas) of the State of Manipur.

Mention may be made here that Manipur, as a Union Territory, had a special provision for Hill Areas under the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963 (20 of 1963). Section 52 under this Act provided for a "Standing Committee" and functions of the Standing Committee for the Hill Areas. The section, repealed when Manipur became a full fledged State, is reproduced below:-"Special provision for Hill Areas of Manipur.

-(1) There shall be a Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly of the Union Territory of Manipur consisting of all the members of the Legislative Assembly who for the time being represent the constituencies situated in the Hill Areas of that territory: Provided that the Chief Minister and the Speaker shall not be members of the Standing Committee.

(2) The President may by notification determine the area which shall be regarded as the Hill Areas of Manipur and specify the constituencies situated in the Hill Areas.

(3) Every Minister shall have the right to speak in, and otherwise take part in the proceedings of, the Standing Committee, but shall not, by virtue of such right, be entitled to vote at any meeting of the Committee if he is not a member thereof.

(4) The following matters in so far as they relate to the Hill Areas of Manipur shall be within the purview of the Standing Committee to the extent and in the manner provided by this section, namely:-

(a) the allotment, occupation, or the setting apart of land (other than any land which is a reserved forest) for the purposes of agriculture or grazing or for residential or other non-agricultural purposes or for any other purpose likely to promote the interests of the inhabitants of any village or town situated within the Hill Areas: Provided that nothing in this clause shall be deemed to require the reference to the Standing Committee of any proposal for compulsory acquisition of any land for a public purpose;

(b) the management of any forest not being a reserved forest;
(c) the use of any canal or water course for purpose of agriculture;
(d) the regulation of the practice of jhum or other forms of shifting cultivation;
(e) the establishment of village or town committees or councils and their powers;
and any other matter relating to village or town administration,
including village or town police and public health and sanitation;
(f) the appointment or succession of chiefs or headmen;
g) the inheritance of property;
(h) marriage; and
(i) social customs.

Every Bill which is not a financial Bill and contains mainly provisions dealing with matters specified in sub-section (4) shall, upon introduction in the Legislative Assembly of the Union Territory of Manipur, be referred to the Standing Committee for consideration and report to the Legislative Assembly.

If any question arises whether a Bill attracts the provisions of sub-section (5) or not, the question shall be referred to the Administrator and his decision thereon shall be final. Any Bill referred to the Standing Committee under sub-section (5) may, if so recommended by the Standing Committee, be passed by the Legislative Assembly with such variations as may be necessary in its application to areas other than the Hill Areas.

When a Bill as reported by the Standing Committee is not passed by the Legislative Assembly in the form in which it has been reported but is passed in a form which, in the opinion of the Speaker, is substantially different from that as reported by the Standing Committee, or is rejected by the Legislative Assembly, the Speaker shall submit to the Administrator-

(a) in any case where the Bill has been passed by the Legislative Assembly in a substantially different form, the Bill as passed by the Assembly together with the Bill as reported by the Standing Committee;
(b) in any case where the Bill is rejected by the Assembly, the Bill as reported by the Standing Committee.

(9) The Administrator shall, as soon as possible after the submission to him of the Bill, return the Bill to the Legislative Assembly with a message recommending either that the Bill be withdrawn or that it be passed in the form in which it has been reported by the Standing Committee or in the form in which it has been passed by the Legislative Assembly and the message received from the Administrator shall be reported by the Speaker to the Assembly and accordingly, the Bill shall be deemed to have been withdrawn, or as the case may be, be deemed to have been passed by the Assembly in the form recommended by the Administrator.

The Standing Committee shall have power to consider and pass resolutions recommending to the Administrator any legislative or executive action with respect to matters specified in sub-section (4), so however that the executive action relates to general questions of policy and the legislative or executive action does not involve any financial commitments other than expenditure of a routine and incidental character.

The Council of Ministers shall normally give effect to the recommendations of the Standing Committee under sub-section (10) but if the Council is of the opinion that it would not be expedient to do so or that the Standing Committee was not competent to make any such recommendations, the matter shall be referred to the Administrator whose decision thereon shall be final and binding on the Council and action shall be taken accordingly.

The Administrator shall have special responsibility for securing the proper functioning of the Standing Committee in accordance with this section. A close examination of the 1963 Act, the provisions of Article 371C and The Manipur Legislative Assembly (Hill Areas Committee) Order, 1972 (issued by the President of India on 20th June 1972) reveals that the essence of the 1963 Act has been included in Article 371C and all other provisions of the 1963 Act has been incorporated in the The Manipur Legislative Assembly (Hill Areas Committee) Order, 1972 and the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act, 1971.

In other words, the arrangements that existed between the State Govt of Manipur and the Hill Areas under the provisions of 1963 Act, when Manipur was a UT, is continued under the provisions of Article 371 C, the Presidential Order issued by the President of India on 20th June 1972 and Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act, 1971 enacted by Parliament on 26th December, 1971.

Plainly put, the powers and functions that were enjoyed by the Standing Committee under the 1963 Act including the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act, 1971 is being enjoyed by the Hill Areas Committee. There is nothing extraordinary and new that was provided to the Hill Areas during the transition of Manipur from a UT to full fledged Statehood.

In my humble opinion, the HAC is the Select Committee as far as all legislative matters affecting wholly or partly the Hill Areas and containing mainly provisions dealing with any of the Scheduled matters are concerned. The notion of referring the proposed ADC Bill to a Select Committee of the Assembly could be termed as unacceptable to the hill people.


* Ngaranmi Shimray wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is a New Delhi based activist, writes occasionally on matters close to his heart
and can be reached at shimray2011(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on August 04 2022 .



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