TODAY -

ATSUM urges Governor to junk Bill, convene special session
Source: Chronicle News Service / Newmai News Network

Imphal, August 31 2022: The All Tribal Students' Union, Manipur (ATSUM) and its federating units in a joint memorandum on Wednesday urged the Manipur Governor to "immediately withdraw the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council (Sixth Amendment) Bill 2022 (which has now.

become an act) as it is not a Money Bill" .

The tribal student bodies also urged the Governor to convene a special session of the Manipur Legislative Assembly to table and discuss "The Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council Bill 2021" .

The memorandum alleged that the government of Manipur tried to bypass the acts/provisions envisaged for safeguard ing the interests of peoples of the Hill Areas of Manipur by passing of a Bill wholly affecting and relating to the Hill Areas of State of Manipur, ie, the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council (Sixth Amendment) Bill, 2022 (Bill No 15 of 2022) as a Money Bill despite the fact that the amendments passed in the said BUI does not deal with any tax, money from the contingency fund of the state, declaration of any expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of the State ie, matters spelt out in the definition of "Money Bills" in Article 199 of the Constitution of India.

The memorandum mentioned that the said Bill is the exact copy of the "The Manipur (Hill Areas) District CouncUs (Sixth Amendment) Ordinance, 2021" amending the Manipur (Hill Areas) District CouncUs Act, 1971 (Act No 76 of 1971) which was placed before the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) of Manipur for consideration as per law and which the HAC refused to entertain but eventually the same was withdrawn by the Government of Manipur itself in the year 2021.According to the ATSUM and its federating units, during the recently concluded Assembly session, this same ordinance mentioned above was masqueraded as a money bill (Bill No.15 of 2022) and presented in the House in order to bypass the requirement of placing it before the HAC.

As per the provisions of Manipur Legislative Assembly (Hill Areas Committee) Order, 1972 ("Presidential Order of 1972"), read with Article 371C of the Constitution of India, every bill other than a Money Bill affecting the Hill Areas of Manipur be referred to the HAC for consideration and only on being recommended by the HAC it may be passed by the Assembly, the memorandum added.

"It is pertinent to note that Hill Areas Committee is vested with functions and power over all Scheduled Matters which relate to the Hill Areas including constitution, power and functioning of the Autonomous District CouncUs (the Act for which the said bill is amended) and legislative powers on specified subject amongst others, the memorandum also said.

They have also been given powers to manage their resources, public health and sanitation services, education, and also undertake administrative and welfare services, the memorandum further stated.

According to the tribal student bodies, a bare reading of the Article 371C of the Constitution of India, read with Paragraphs 3, 4, 5 and Schedule 2 of the Presidential Order 1972 clearly demonstrates that the HAC will have the powers to deal with all the items listed under Schedule 2 of the Presidential Order 1972.Further, Paragraph 4(2) of the Presidential Order 1972 provides that every bill introduced in the State Legislature having bearing on the Hill Areas partly or wholly and relating to matters listed under Schedule 2 will be referred to the HAC for its consideration and report.

Further, Paragraph 5 of the Presidential Order 1972 provides that any bill that is referred to the HAC in terms of Paragraph 4(2), may, if so recommended by the Committee, be passed by the State Assembly with such variation as may be necessary, it added.

The tribal students then suggested the Governor to observe that proviso to the Paragraph 4(2) of the Presidential Order 1972 says that if any question arises whether a Bill attracts the provisions of Paragraph 4(2) or not, the question shall be referred to the Governor and his decision thereon shall be final.

The ATSUM and its federating units then urged the Governor to exercise powers mandated under the 'Special responsibility of the Governor' of the 'Manipur Legislative Assembly (Hill Areas Committee) Order 1972 (Presidential-Order)'; to act in accordance with the provisions of the Order, and 'in the discharge of his special responsibility, act in his discretion'.

"It is evident from recent events that Your Excellency has shirked this responsibility and gone by the directions of the Government rather than direct the Government by exercising your discretion," the memorandum added.

The tribal student bodies also said that it would be a great shame and a travesty of justice if the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of "our great nation" were to be distorted at the convenience of those in power.

In view of the above, the memorandum stated, "It is most respectfully submitted that Your Excellency affects immediate withdrawal of the said Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council (Sixth Amendment) Bill, 2022 (which has now become an Act) as it is not a money Bill.

Your Excellency's intervention is absolutely necessary at this juncture.

If Your Excellency ignores this plea, we will be constrained to take up steps which may be detrimental for the State, in our quest for justice" .

"Your Excellency is constitutionally obligated to see this Bill to its rightful end and not follow dictation from the government.

We therefore urge Your Excellency to convene a Special session of the House for introducing and discussing The Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council Bill 2021 and passing it," the memorandum added.


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