What ails the hill tribals... The proposed Manipur (Hill Areas) ADC Bill , 2021 vis-a-vis the original Act
Sira Kharay, Advocate
Contd from last Saturday
Thereafter, the Montague- Chelmsford Reforms reclassified these tribal belts as “Backward Tracts” and made the provisions of the Government of India Act, 1919 inapplicable to these tracts.
Subsequently, by expunging the term “Backward Tracts”, the Simon Commission recommended for the use of the term “Excluded Areas” and proposed that the “Excluded Areas” may be administered by the Governor in his sole discretion as without the advice of the Ministers thereto. The Joint Parliamentary Committee which examined the White Paper observed, “It is proposed that the powers of a Provincial Legislature shall not extend to any part of the Province which is declared to be an “Excluded Area” or a “Partially Excluded Area”… The Governor will also be empowered at his discretion to make regulations having the force of law for the peace and good Government of any “Excluded” or “Partially Excluded Area,” but subject in this case to the prior consent of the Governor-General. We have already expressed our approval of the principle of “Excluded Areas,” and we accept the above proposals as both necessary and reasonable so far as “Excluded Areas” proper are concerned (Emphasis added).”
In terms of the above recommendation, Section 92 of the Government of India Act, 1935 accordingly provides that no Act of the Federal Legislature or of the Provincial Legislature, shall apply to an excluded area or a partially excluded area, unless the Governor by public notification so directs and the Governor in giving such a direction may specify that the Act in its application to the area shall be subject to such exceptions or modifications as he thinks fit.
The policy rationale for such exclusion being as observed by Mr. Hutton, Superintendent of the Census of 1931, that “the real problem would appear to be to create self-governing tribal areas with free power of self-determination in regard to surrounding or adjacent provincial units”, or “In the alternative they may retain a sort of emasculated tribal life, deprived of the customs and festivals that gave it meaning and cohesion and fall into that physical apathy and physical decline which has decimated so many tribal communities in the Pacific and elsewhere; and this decline is accelerated in another way by the opening up of communications (Emphasis added)” (ZA Ahmad, BSc., PhB – Congress Political and Economic STUDIES).
Existing Indian Enactments : After Manipur having merged with the Union of India on 21st September, 1949, special provisions were initially introduced for the separate administration of the “Hill Areas” in the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963. To quote the Administrative Reforms Commission, “A Standing Committee of the Manipur Legislature consisting of all MLAs representing the hill areas has been created. This Committee must be consulted in regard any legislation connected with management of 1and and forests, use of canal water for irrigation, shifting cultivation, village and town committees, appointment and succession of chiefs or headmen, inheritance of property, marriages and social customs (Emphasis added)”.
Subsequently, the Administrative Reforms Commission recommended that “The hill areas of Manipur may be constituted into two autonomous districts for the Kuki and Naga tribal areas. If necessary, autonomous regions can be carved out for smaller tribal groups.
(To be contd)