TODAY -

Manipur Merger Agreement : Waiting for the State's High Court verdict !

Dr Th Suresh *



A lot of water has drained to the Loktak lake during this period. Many of our world -famous Siroy Lily must have blossomed during this period. However, the argument continues with no end result in sight.

Though not included in its verdict, the Hon'ble Supreme court of India verbally directed your petitioner while disposing PIL 1001 of 2013 through its lawyer, Sr. Advocate Mrs.Pincky Anand (LL.M. Harvard and now Additional Solicitor General) to seek State High Court's opinion first and then to come again, if necessary.

This is regarding the controversial Manipur Merger Agreement signed on 21st September 1949 at Shillong. The clause under the writ is regarding "the Government of India also undertake to make suitable provisions for the employment of Manipuris in the various branches of the Public Services, and in every way encourage Manipuris to join them" as contained in sub-clause (3) of Article VIII of the said Merger Agreement.

This is a unique clause and did not find in any of the other 19 merger agreements signed between the erstwhile Native States and the Dominion of India. This is Manipur specific and should be valued to the highest point.

During one of his visit to Imphal while he was BJP President, I and my colleagues met present union Minister Nitin Gadkari and requested him free legal help from among the pool of BJP layers for the intended PIL. He readily agreed. That this is apolitical and I did not approach the Congress Party as they are the ruling one at the centre has been emphasised in various press conferences and releases. My thanks to Gadkari and both state and central BJP units had also been highlighted on many occasions.

Accordingly, I filed another PIL (no. 7 of 2014) to our State High Court on 13/2/2014. The Hon'ble High Court was kind enough to grant hearing for the said writ petition. The 1st hearing was held on 17/2/2014. Till now, 7 such hearings took place. In every hearing, the state advocate and the central advocate took time to file their reply, but subsequently did not file their reply.

On every subsequent hearing, both the counsels did not file their counter-affidavit and requested to grant further time for the same. 4 weeks, 6 weeks etc. etc. had been granted to file the counter affidavit so far by the Hon'ble court. But, unfortunately, both the counsels failed to file their counter affidavits so far.

The latest hearing took place on 21/1/2015. Both the central as well the state government counsels again sought further extension for the counter affidavit. The State High Court was again kind enough to grant a further time of 6 weeks on the latest hearing mentioned above. 6/7 hearings continued for this PIL during the last 1 yr., but opposing counsels failed to furnish their respective counter affidavit again and again.

It looks like to the petitioner that the opposing counsels do not intend to file their counter affidavits and their intention seems to be that of the delaying tactic. Hence, it is becoming burdensome for the petitioner to wait for such a long time. 0ne year is quite a long time. A lot of water has drained to the Loktak lake during this period. Many of our world-famous Siroy Lily must have blossomed during this period. However, the argument continued with no end result in sight. I occasionally wondered how often a high court can give liberty to the opposite party for counter affidavit.

It is worth remembering that the petitioner went to India's Chief Information Commission and sought status of the said Merger Agreement. He even represented himself to the Commission during its hearing at New Delhi on 15/4/2013 to get the needed information. While the process took 1yr. i.e. May 2012 to April 2013 with final order delivered on 25/4/2013 giving direction to furnish the needed information.

In spite of that, the central Govt. could not give proper reply. The Union Home Ministry gave the vague reply of "the information sought by the applicant is not available with the CPIO". That means the Home Ministry has no idea of what actions the centre had taken regarding the above mentioned clause of the Merger Agreement.

I have fought back with 3 letters shooting to the CIC to take action against the erring home ministry officials. But no reply so far. This is Delhi and their attitude to this part of India. My tiresome to and fro journeys from Imphal to Delhi and back with more than 10 letters landing to CIC and subsequent engagement is being kept for a further write up. It will be an interesting one-I promise.

For the present, I don't know how long the state high court will take to give the final direction. For me, I visualise only 1 directive i.e. to implement the above clause in spite of delay spanning long years to smoothen Manipuri mindset. However, it is left to the wisdom and judgement of the Hon'ble High Court.

In the event of an unlikely –ve pronouncement, the petitioner will have the liberty to go to the Supreme Court. This will also give the chance to open the controversial Merger Agreement. So far, our media friends have not covered important cases in the high court to a wider extent. I hope they will do so in future.

NB : This article may serve as an answer to those friends and foes alike, who asked me repeatedly the status of the PIL which was/is going on in the Supreme Court and our State High Court. 4-Apr-2015 / Dr Th Suresh


* Dr Th Suresh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is ex-Director, Health Services, Govt of Manipur
This article was posted on April 05, 2015.


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