MTPRM opposes ADC polls under current Act
Source: The Sangai Express / Newmai News Network

Imphal, April 16 2010: Movement for Tribal People's Rights, Manipur (MTPRM) said that it strongly opposes the holding of the District Councils under the present Act of the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council Act of 2008 .

It drew the attention of the general public and the State Government to what it termed as 'a number of inconsistencies and irregularities' with regard to the legislative and executive enactments and decisions under which the proposed elections to the Autonomous District Councils are to be held.

Detailing the roots of the impasse, the MTPRM said that on January 11 this year, the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils (Election of Members) Rules, 2009 was notified by the Government.

Under Rule 116 of the said 2009 Rules, the 1972 Rules was repealed.

Notably, the 2009 Rules omitted the word 'Autonomous' from its title conforming with the title of the principal Act of 1971, that is, the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act 1971, the MTPRM pointed out.

MTPRM said that it is of the view that the notification of the 2009 Rules were made with malafide intentions to defeat the Central objective of the 1971 Act, that is to establish and set up Autonomous District Councils.

"This inference is borne by the fact that there are a number of irregularities and illegalities in framing and notification of the 2009 Rules.

While the title of the 2009 Rules reads as Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils (Election of Members) Rules 2009, in a number of Forms notified in the Rules, there are glaring errors and mistakes which has created confusion and doubt among the general public.

In Forms 7 (part IV), 31 and 32 the phrase, "Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomxous District Councils (Election of Members) Rules 2009", can be found whereas in actuality no such Rules exist.

We view these as highly suspect and question whether the government of Manipur has the best interest of the people living in hill areas at heart or the present decision to hold elections has been made with a view to divide and suppress the rights of the tribals in the hill areas," the tribal rights body said.

The rights body said that under the current framework, the Constitution and power and functioning of District Councils in the hill areas is within the purview of the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) as set out under the Manipur Legislative Assembly (Hill Areas Committee) Order, 1972 as notified by the then President of India, VV Giri.

"Therefore, any actions that affect the constitution and functioning of the District Councils, including the framing of Rules, have to be consulted with and assented by the HAC.

Any Government action which fails to do this is irregular, illegal, and violative of the powers conferred upon the HAC.

Assuming that the HAC was consulted, the notified Rules and amendments indicate that the HAC miserably failed to discharge its duties to safeguard the interest of the tribals and those living in the hill areas," added the MTPRM.

Under Rule 15 of the 1972 Rules, candidates were allowed to choose symbols out of the list of symbols published by the Election Commission for election to the House of the people, said the tribal rights body.

"This means that candidates can choose their symbol from those published by the Election Commission for election to the House of the people.

Under Rule 20 of the 2009 Rules, the choice of candidates to choose their symbols have been watered down tremendously with the power given to the State Election Commission to specify the symbols that may be chosen by candidates and restrictions that may be subject to their choices.

We view this step as done with bad faith on the part of the government of Manipur to limit and suppress the rights of the hill people," fumed MTPRM.