Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 : What to do now?
- Part 3 -

Dr. Khomdon Lisam *

 Protest against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) by UPF & CSOs at Keishampat :: 21st January 2019
Protest against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) by UPF & CSOs at Keishampat on 21st January 2019 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam

Response of Manipur

Shri N. Biren Singh, Chief Minister told media on Tuesday , 23 May, 2018 - " The proposed legislation would not have any effect in Manipur. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill concerns Assam. It will not affect Manipur (TOI ). On 25 May, 2018, the All Manipur Students' Union (AMSU) has strongly condemned the response of Chief Minister N Biren Singh regarding the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, and has demanded the State Government to oppose the same.

On 18 May 2018, a press release issued by the information and publicity secretary of AMSU claimed that North East Students Organisation (NESO) submitted various memos to the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) which came to the North East and to the Prime Minister as well demanding the Bill to be revoked.

On the other hand, AMSU also submitted memos to the Governor and the Chief Minister condemning the Bill and demanding the Government to oppose the same. On 22 May, 2018 Students in Imphal too held the agitation under the banner of All Manipur Student Union (AMSU). The protest was carried out at Keishampat Community Hall in Imphal.

On 31 May, 2018, Th Biswajit , spokesperson of the Manipur Government said that "the State Government will urge the centre not to cover Manipur by the citizen (amendment) bill, 2016" . On 17 January, 2019, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh says his government will want the President's Assent to Manipur People's (Protection) Bill, 2018 before passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

Mr Singh also stressed that his Government will want the President's assent to Manipur People's (Protection) Bill, 2018 before passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. He also said- "Unless there is a provision for protecting the indigenous people of Manipur as well as the other northeast states, the state government would not support the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill-2016," while inaugurating several development projects in Chandel district.

Two Points of Chief Minister to the Union Home Minister

On 12 January, 2019, Manipur Chief Minister Shri N. Biren Singh called on Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh along with Manipur BJP President and Rajya Sabha MP, Ksh. Bhabananda Singh. Shri Biren Singh submitted a memorandum for giving Presidential Assent to Manipur People Bill, 2018. Shri Rajnath assured that the Ministry will examine the Bill. (PIB dated 14/1/2019)

Shri Rajnath's assurance is not to give assent but to examine the Bill. After returning from Delhi, the Chief Minister placed two points before the people of Manipur :-

1. The President should assent the Manipur People Bill-2018 before the Citizenship (Amendment) Act-2016 is passed by the Rajya Sabha.

2. The Chief Minister will urge the Prime Minister and the Home Minister to provide an " Exclusion Clause " in the Bill to exclude Manipur from the Citizen (Amendment ) Bill-2016.

The Chief Minister's proposals are very good proposals. The only question is how can we put a condition on the President of India saying that "you do this first before doing the other". Secondly, the Chief Minister's statement show that he supported both the Bills -the Manipur People Bill-2018 and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act-2016. He does not oppose the Bill or demand withdrawal of the Bill.

According to the Manipur People Bill -2018 Manipur People means all the NATIVE People of Manipur. But the Bill does not define who are the Native People or Indigenous people or Aboriginal peoples of Manipur. We should not take everything on assumption. A sentence defining who are the native people or indigenous people of Manipur need to be inserted. Native people means the indigenous people of Manipur. Indigenous peoples, also known as first peoples, aboriginal peoples or native peoples, are ethnic groups who are the original settlers of a given region.

According to the Supreme Court Judgement, only "the Tribal are the Indigenous people" of India. That means Meiteis are not Native people or the Indigenous people of Manipur since Meiteis are not Scheduled Tribes. But the Meiteis are the original settlers or first settlers of Manipur. They are, therefore the Native people or Indigenous people of Manipur. In order to claim as indigenous people, Meiteis need to be listed as Scheduled Tribes under Article 342 of Indian Constitution. This needs to be reflected in the Manipur people Bill-2018.

The present Manipur People Bill -2018 which is lying with the Union Home Ministry has several loopholes. I may be allowed to cite some examples. If the President give assent to this Manipur people Bill-2018, we may not be able to amend it for several decades. If we want an effective Manipur people Bill-2018, we should withdraw it and redraft it with the help of some constitutional expert like Ram Jetmalani, Soli Sorabjee, Fali Sam Nariman, Mukul Rohtagi.

The present Manipur people Bill-2018 does not have penalty provisions for defaulters although there is penalty provisions for hosteller and owners of buildings who sheltered the non-Manipuris for not informing the State Government. Our legal experts have pointed out that without punishment clauses, the Bill will be just like a paper tiger and will not be effective.

What is the use of having an ineffective Bill. It will defeat the purpose of the Bill. At the same time, the legal experts have also pointed out that under Article 35 (a) ( ii) . the state can not enact a law having punishment clauses. They have not mentioned about 7th Schedule List 2 (State List Entry 64 –Offences against Laws under which the state is empowered to enact laws connected with offences.

If the State can not enact a law having punishment clauses, how are other advanced States like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat enacted laws having punishment clauses. It is here that we need the services of constitutional experts like Ram Jetmalani, Soli Sorabjee, Fali Sam Nariman, Mukul Rohtagi.

The Karnataka State Legislative Assembly passed the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prohibition of transfer of certain lands) Act, 1978 (Karnataka Act No. 2 of 1979 ) with punishment clauses of imprisonment which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees or with both.

The Andhra Pradesh State Legislature passed an Act namely "the Andhra Pradesh Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Act, 1982" (Act No. 12 of 1982), which was published in Andhra Pradesh Gazette, Part IV-B (E.O.) dated 6th September, 1982 with punishment clauses of imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to five years and with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees".
( cclaweb/scan20acts /land %20grabbing.html)

The Gujarat State Legislative Assembly passed an Act entitled the Freedom of Religion Act, 2003 (Act 24 of 2003) on 12 March 2003 to provide for freedom of religion by prohibition of conversion from one religion to another by the use of force or allurement or by fraudulent means Under section 5 (3), there is a punishment clause which reads: "Whoever fails, without sufficient cause, to comply with the provisions of sub-sections (1) and (2) shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to rupees one thousand or with both."

There are many more examples. I do not want to go further. My plea is that if other state can pass bills with punishment clauses, why not Manipur do it. The State Government shall need to examine critically whether a punishment clause of three months detention can be inserted for violators of this Act to make the Bill/Act more effective ?

Moreover, there is no mention about deletion of names of migrants workers entering Manipur after 18 November, 1950 from the electoral rolls. There is no mention about invalidation and cancellation of Sale Deeds , Pattas (Jamabandi) of migrant workers who purchased land in Manipur after 18 November, 1950.

The Statement of objects and reasons of the present Bill should be very clear. It should include , inter alia, protection of the identity , culture, lands, language, script and business of the indigenous people and permanent citizens of Manipur The present Manipur people Bill-2018 does not specify the fees to be given by the migrant to the Government of Manipur. I strongly feel that Compulsory Registration on payment of prescribed fees with exemption clauses for students, employees of the Central government etc. Extension of Registration etc should be included. This will improve the revenue of the State also.

The Chief Minister also said that he will urge the Prime Minister and the Home Minister to provide an " Exclusion Clause " in the Bill to exclude Manipur from the Citizen (Amendment ) Bill-2016. The Bill is already passed by the Lok Sabha. What our Chief Minister is saying relates to the legislative process of the Rajya Sabha.

To be continued ....

* Dr. Khomdon Lisam wrote this article for
The writer was Former Medical Superintendent, JNIMS, Ex-Consultant, NACO & Ex-Project Director (MACS)
The writer may be contacted at khomdon(DOT)lisam(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on February 02 2019.

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