Drafting of new ILPS Bill in Manipur

Dr L Krishnamangol Singh *

ILP : Partial bandh - Imphal-Dimapur highway was blocked from Chingmeirong to Sekmai  :: May 17 2016
ILP : Imphal-Dimapur highway blocked from Chingmeirong to Sekmai on May 17 2016 :: Pix - Shanker Khangembam

It would be essential to deal with some critical issues of Inner Line Permit System (ILPS) in Manipur in order to enact a new Bill on the ILPS in the State. To begin with, it can be pointed out that Manipur without migration is a desirable model of development. But, this cannot happen due to continuous influx of population in the State over a long period of time. Without going into the extent and various implications of the migration of population in the State, it can be pointed out that the majority of the people of Manipur (i.e. Manipuri) would like to exclude the migrants from settling or residing inside the State.

Thus, the question of the fixation of base year for excluding the migrants from settling inside the State has become controversial. Now, it (the base year) needs to be re-fixed as the President of India has returned the bill for improvement. In refixing the new base year, it is essential to note the historical backdrop of the migration of people in the Northeastern states including Manipur.

In fact, with the 'partition' of the country and the emergence of Bangladesh as Independent country on 26th March, 1971, a large number of Hindus, particularly Bengali Hindus, and other people who were included in Bangladesh had migrated to the adjoining states of India, like Assam and other Northeastern states including Manipur. In fact, the impact of migration from Bangladesh in our neighbouring state of Assam is very serious, and people of Assam still continue to resist against the illegal migrants in the State.

In spite of this demographic crisis of migration in Assam, the Government of India seems to consider that they (i.e. those Hindus) are returning to our country and that they (these Hindu migrants) are seeking new settlements in any state in the country. Again, the successive Governments of India also do not like to confront with our neighbouring country (i.e. Bangladesh) keeping in view the past history of the emergence of Bangladesh as an independent country in 1971, and the War between Pakistan and India in 1965.

Today, the Government of India wants to keep good neighbouring relations with Bangladesh and Pakistan. The Government of India, therefore, is still silent on the continued influx of huge migrants in Assam and the neighbouring states of Northeastern region, including Manipur. And, in spite of the serious resistance and various forms of protests by the political parties and original people of Assam against the settlement of migrants in the State, the Central Government has not yet formulated and announced any suitable or effective policy to grapple with the critical issues of population settled as migrants in the State.

It is also very difficult to adopt policy measures for repatriation of these migrants to the neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, etc. As an alternative policy measure on the issue of migration, the Centre now wants to introduce the system of National Population Register (NPR) in Assam as a relief to the demographic crisis in the State. The Government of India seems to consider that this will perhaps give some relief to the migrants and help in addressing the controversial issue of the fixation of base year that seeks to apply the exclusion principle to the migrant population in Assam. However, the forces of civil agitation/public agitation against the Central and State government still continue in Assam in order to exclude the migrants from the state and save the indigenous people of Assam.

In the context of Manipur, while it is necessary to maintain National Population Register (NPC), it is also equally necessary to refix an appropriate base year for excluding the migrants from the State as the President of India has now returned the Bill. Again in refixing a new base year for excluding the migrants, it is necessary to consider the demographic composition and trends, and availability of detailed data/information on the various characteristics of the population of Manipur. Here, it is essential to note that, while the 1951 Census followed livelihood classification on the population of Manipur, the 1961 Population Census and the subsequent population censuses upto 1991 Census followed industrial classification of workers (nine-fold industrial classification of main workers), which had been discontinued in 2001 Census.

And the four-fold industrial classification of both main and marginal workers were followed in 2001 and 2011 Censuses. Information on other workers and non-workers were also collected. Thus, detailed information on the various aspects of population or the characteristics of population has been collected in the Indian Censuses through various methods.

However, there may be possibility of small processing errors in the exercise of Census. And in 1951 Census, information for the relevant questions were recorded on every "slip". And, in the subsequent Censuses, individual slips were also used in collecting information/data. In fact, we are still doubtful whether there was timely tabulation and processing of the information/data in the post Census of 1951. Even if the Registrar General of Census Office, India or the Central Government claimed that the presentation of data was done timely, there was the possibility of the loss of some Census "slips", which were used in the exercise of the Census operations.

Today, the Indian Censuses have been significantly improved in terms of methods of collection of data, concepts, definitions, classifications, etc. Again, the "fly-leaf", which has been used in the Indian Censuses since 1961 contained useful information for explaining the various tables for primary census abstract (of the different categories of workers). While the Census data are useful for researchers, policy makers, administrators, specialized public groups, civil society organizations (CSOs), research organisations, etc., the names of household members and different categories of persons are not easily accessible or available to the public.

Thus, we have to reconsider for refixing the base year/cut-off year of ILPS in Manipur and enact the alternative legislation or bill for the management or regulation of the influx of migrants in the State after fulfilling all necessary/relevant conditions in the enactment or formulation of new laws or legislation for the State in order to convince the Central Government and get the assent or approval of the President of India within the framework of Indian Constitution and also as per the rules/powers conferred/provided to the State by the Constitution of India. This requires careful consideration or re-examination and interpretation of the three lists of the Indian Constitution (i.e. the Union List, the State List and Concurrent List). Thus, the objective of the new bill/legislation needs to be focused on the management and regulation of the influx of the migrants in Manipur.

In fact, the State of Manipur or any other State in the Country (India) has the constitutional right to formulate policy measures for population control and family planning as per the Concurrent List (List III, entry 20 A under Article 246) of the Indian Constitution. Thus, every State in India has some constitutional rights to control inter-state migration or movement of population (general population) in their respective States without violating Indian Constitution.

While, it is true that the provision of "inter-state migration, inter-state quarantine" is included in List I (Union List) under Article 246, the States in India can also put some restrictions on the influx of migrants in their respective states as part of population control and family planning programmes under List III (Concurrent List, entry 20 A) of the Indian Constitution. In fact, the inter-state migration inside the State of Manipur can be controlled through proper regulation or registration under institutional mechanism of State authority.

And, a new institution of the State Government like, Population Bureau can manage inter-state migration or influx of migrants in Manipur through proper co-ordination with the State Labour Department. As already noted, this provision is provided in the Concurrent List (entry 20 A) of the Indian Constitution, which can be implemented by any State of India or by the State of Manipur with assent/approval of the President of India.

Apart from this state action, there is also the urgent need for strengthening and expansion of security measures both inside and border areas/frontiers of Manipur in order to check and guard the influx of illegal migrants or population from the neighbouring countries.

Again, in the Indian context and according to Indian Constitution, population control is an integral part of family planning. It can be further pointed out that population control, which is an integral part of family planning, and which is enshrined in the List III (entry 20 A) implies not only birth control or limitation of the size of the family, but also implies the control of population including the influx of migrants from the rest of the country. Thus, the Indian Constitution provides certain rights to the States for population control including the control of the influx of migrants or the influx of the population (general population) in any State.

In fact, while the inter-state migration is included in the List I under Article 246 of the Indian Constitution, the States in India have also certain rights to formulate or enact legislation for population control policy as per List III under Article 246 of the Indian Constitution. However, in enacting a new Bill for introduction of Inner Line Permit System in Manipur as per List III, it would be essential to reconsider or refix a new base year or cut-off year, which should not be repugnant with the List I (Union List) under Article 246 of the Indian Constitution. In fact, it is now essential to note that the Government of India is now contemplating to formulate a policy for repatriation of the foreigners. Likewise, it is also equally necessary to formulate appropriate policy for rehabilitation of the migrant workers in their respective states.

Finally, it can be suggested that if there is proper policy for rehabilitation of the migrants, there is no need for fixing the base year for applying exclusion principle to them. In fact, this is the most critical area of ILPS in Manipur, which should not be repugnant with the Union List (List I entry 42 and entry 81) and the Article 19 (d), (e) and (g).

Thus, in the larger interest of the people of Manipur and in protecting the indigenous people/population of Manipur, the burden and benefits of the migrants for returning to their home states should be given to them (i.e. the migrants), who came in Manipur in recent years. Again, as land is included in the State List (List II, entry 18), the Government of Manipur can impose legal restrictions on the purchase of lands in Manipur and enact any legislation concerning the land issues. In fact, the State Government of Manipur can initiate or enact legislation for ILPS in Manipur and address land issues or the issue of tribal land system in the whole state of Manipur.

* Dr L Krishnamangol Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is an economist
This article was posted on August 11 2016.

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