TODAY -

Let us find a way out from ILPS quagmire

Free Thinker *

 ILP : Women protestors and Police clash at Keisampat Junction :: June 15 2016 .
ILP : Women protestors and Police clash at Keisampat Junction on June 15 2016 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam



The fundamental purpose of the Inner Line Permit System (ILPS) is to protect & preserve our people, our identity, our culture from intruders and foreigners. It is also primarily to get ourselves insulated from the infringement of outside elements on our land and resources etc. From our point of view this is perfectly in tune with our psyche.

But the pertinent issue is whether the Union Government and the mainstream people have the similar line of thinking. Their main concern is not about the foreigners but about the Indian subjects as a whole; how can an Indian State restrict Indian Citizens to come and settle in their territory (which is not a Scheduled/Restricted area)?

The Government of India is equally concerned about the existing ILPS in Arunachal, Nagaland and Mizoram. Perhaps they feel that the ILPS goes against the spirit of the unity and integrity of the people of this country.

Let us not get into all these polemical discourses. Today we are in a fluid situation and we are eager to come out of this situation. People want ILPS. The hill people have reservations about the proposed law which is now withheld (rejected) by the President.

Whenever we want to enact a law it is indispensable to follow the established system, the procedure, the due process and most importantly the Constitution. We follow the Westminster form of government under a written Constitution and accordingly the State Government is responsible to the Assembly. The State government may pass any number of Bills in the Assembly (Art 196-199). Those Bills become Acts (Laws) only when assented by the Governor (Art 200) or by the President (Art 201), whichever may be the case.

The first and foremost thing we have to see is whether the proposed legislation is within the ambit of the State Legislature. This means the subjects on which we are to enact are either in the State list or the Concurrent list (Schedule VII). The Bills so drafted for introduction, discussion and passing in the Assembly must be in conformity with the provisions of the Constitution.

For instance a State Law cannot define Indian citizenship; issues relating to citizenship are within the jurisdiction of the Union (Union list). It is ultra vires if the State government tries to define and decide Indian citizenship.

If we try to distinguish Manipuri and non-Manipuri by giving a time line, it is as good as defining citizenship. Constitutional experts may not be able to digest it. Another lacuna is the restriction put on the Indian citizens to enter and settle in parts of Manipur where there are no Constitutional or Statutory restrictions.

If we want to try another Bill on ILPS, for heavenís sake please let the Bill be drafted by experts. If we hire some professionals there is nothing wrong about it.

Constitutional and legislative experts may be consulted while drafting such an intricate Bill (Law). The State must be having competent lawyers, constitutionalists, legislative experts but what is wrong to consult the Supreme Court Constitutional lawyers, Legal advisor to the President, Bill drafters of the Union Law ministry etc.

Once such an exercise is done the Governor or the President may not be reluctant to endorse the Bill. Let us keep in our mind that the present President of India knows the law of the land more than any one of us in the state.

Of course public opinion and sentiments are taken into consideration while framing laws. That does not mean that only public opinion shall prevail upon all the paraphernalia of law making. Things which cannot be done (not in conformity with the Constitution and existing Laws) should not be part of the proposed statute even if there is a strong sentiment about them.

Again, if I understand correctly a Bill cannot be deemed to be a Money Bill by reason only that it provides for imposition of fines or other pecuniary penalties, or for the demand or payment of fees for licenses or fees for services rendered, or by reason that it provides for imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax by any local authority or body for local purposes [Art 199(2)].

In the nine of Money Bill it is obnoxious to take advantage and bulldoze legislation.

It is understandable that the hill people are not against a law which prohibits the foreigners to illegally enter and settle down in the State. The influx of foreigners inside the State must be checked and stopped. There may be some issues at the border areas where people (both sides) mingle and have matrimonial, occupational and property relations. This issue must also be taken into account and sorted out within a stipulated time frame.

Let us be very clear about one thing that the law whether Central or State, the purpose is to serve our cause, i.e., the protection of our land and people from outsiders/foreigners. I still have serious doubts that our State Assembly has the legislative competence to enact such a law dealing with aliens and inter-state migration & quarantine.

So, the easier path is to urge upon the BJP led Union Government to bring ILPS (Arunachal/Nagaland/Mizoram type) for the State of Manipur. ILPS will prove to be a Bramhastra (for the opponents) if they want to set their foot here in 2017. Change the game-plan accordingly.


* Free Thinker wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on June 28 , 2016.



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