On the 30th May 2019, the Autonomous District Council Churanchandpur has passed a law directing all shopkeepers and business establishment owners within the town area of Churachandpur District to close their respective shops and business establishments on every Sunday.
The order was in pursuance to the memorandum of the Deputy Labour Commissioner as per Section 10(1) of the Manipur Shops and Establishment Act 1972. Section 10(1) of the Act has clearly stated that "Every shop shall be closed on one day in each week". And it clearly does not specify the day on which such shop should be closed.
The victim of the "Sunday Closed Law" are the vegetable sellers in the market. Some of them have travelled from their respective villages to Churachandpur to sell their products. The task force set up by the ADCC had threatened and used languages that hurt their religious sentiments and to the extent where they tored up the license of such vendors which affect them financially.
According to Section 2(18) of the Act, "shop" is clearly define as any premises, however the general interpretation of premises would meant a building or other structure with a permanent address which the vendors do not have such permanent address or place for running their business. And further the vegetable vendors do not fall under the definition of "Establishment" as defined in Section 2(9) of the Act.
The most important law has been negligently disregarded by the Higher Authority when the Act clearly states in Section 4(h) of the Act that:
"NOTHING IN THIS ACT SHALL APPLY TO SHOPS OR STALLS DEALING MAINLY IN VEGETABLES, MEAT, FISH, DAIRY PRODUCE, PASTRIES, SWEETMEATS, FLOWERS...) which exempt the vegetables vendors and their stalls.
The action taken by the higher authority has clearly violated the fundamental rights of the vendors specially Article 14,15,19(g) & 21 of the Constitution. The Right to Livelihood is an integral facet of the right to life !
Clearly the issues draws the conclusion that the order has been made favouring the Christian majority. No doubt for decades Churachandpur has a majority of Christian residence but that does make it fair for us to belittle the other minorities.
We Christian should rather be an examplar as our religion teaches respect for all ethnic groups and welcome people from all races, cultures
languages, and backgrounds (Acts 10:34).
True religion has no paid clergy, and it does not give high sounding religious titles to any of its members (1 Peter 5:2,3).
There arises the urgent and thorough need to make changes in the way we interpret the laws and the way the Higher Authority execute their powers in this issue.
The content of the law always consists of obligations, rights, powers and the like.
Legal interpretation depend on how the content of the law is determined at more fundamental level than legal standards.
Every interpretation of the legal text requires direct moral or normative reasoning which we seem have lacked in this situation!