Manipur ADC Bill row: Tribal affairs minister calls for faith in due process of law

Minister Vungzagin Valte also said since he himself is a member of a tribal community, he will do his best to protect their rights and ensure that there is development in the hills.

Manipur Tribal Affairs and Hills Minister Vungzagin Valte, while speaking on the controversy surrounding the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill, 2021, on Tuesday appealed to all the tribal communities in the state to have faith in the due process of the law.

“The department has consulted all stakeholders, including the law department and the office of the Advocate General. And they have opined that the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council Bill, 2021, needs a careful examination according to the due process of law. This is being done and a committee has been constituted in this regard,” Valte said during the Zero Hour in the Assembly.

The issues are complicated as the proposed draft Bill seeks to repeal and replace the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act, 1971, he said. Valte also said since he himself is a member of a tribal community, he will do his best to protect their rights and ensure that there is development in the hills.

The All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM) had called for a 24-hour total shutdown from Sunday midnight in the hill districts to protest the “failure” of the government to table the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Councils Bill, 2021, during the ongoing Monsoon Session of the state Assembly. Many tribal bodies had also supported the call for shutdown.

ATSUM had said that the Bill would ensure equal development in the hill districts of Manipur and also promote unity between communities.

However, the Bill was strongly opposed by civil bodies based in valley districts of the state. They said that the proposed legislation would promote disunity and promotes objectives of the contentious Naga Autonomous Territorial Council and Kuki Autonomous Territorial Council, which they have been opposing.

The Bill was drafted by the Hill Areas Committee (HAC), which seeks to repeal and replace the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act, 1971, in order to provide more autonomy to the HAC and the district councils.

Article 371C of the Indian Constitution provides for separate schemes for the administration of the hill areas in Manipur through hill area committees and district councils.

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