L. Memo Singh
“There shall be showers of blessing;
Precious reviving again;
Over the hills and the valleys;
Sound of abundance of rain.”
This is the last stanza of the opening song which was presented at the reception ceremony of Chairman of the Autonomous District Council, Ukhrul held on July 14, 2010 at State Youth Centre Khuman Lampak, Imphal. Dr. Rishang Keishing, M.P. (RS) and Shri D.D. Thaisii, Hon’ble Minister (Hills), Manipur had graced the occasion as the Chief Guest and the President respectively. District Council Administration of the Autonomous District Council, Ukhrul organized the function to the best satisfaction of all the members gathering there. It was, in fact, the jubilation of victory of the SPF Government in the endeavors to determine the right status of the Manipur (Hills Areas) District Councils Act, 1971 through law over the forces who used to resort to violence as a means to get their end. But the challenge facing the Chief Minister O. Ibobi Singh in this issue is not over till now.
After the lapse of twenty years the Manipur Hill District Councils Elections were held again this year. With the enactment of the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act, 1971, the first District Councils Elections were held across the hill districts and Sadar hill in 1973. The second District Councils Elections were held in 1978 and the third District Councils Elections held in 1983. But the mid-term elections of the Senapati District Council were held before 1988 and its term continued upto 1993. Since then there had been no proposal from all sides to conduct such elections. The success in conducting these elections this year amidst the uncompromising agitations of the All Nagas Students Union, Manipur (ANSUM) has created a turning point in the history of administrative reforms of Manipur in dealing with the affairs of the hill administration.
The historical background of the enactment of the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council Act,1971 is shown by its introductory statement issued by D.G. Bhave, Special Officer(Reorganisation) on March 14, 1972. It says:
“When the preparation for the inauguration of Statehood began in December, 1971, the Lt. Governor, Shri D.R. Kohli had directed that simultaneous preparatory work for the establishment of the District Councils should also be taken up. After the state was inaugurated on 21/1/72, I handed over as Chief Secretary on 31-1-72. The Government appointed me to draft the necessary rules and initiate preliminary steps for the establishment of the District Councils. With the approval of the Governor, Shri B.K. Nehru, I was directed to complete the initial work according to a time schedule. I am gratified that this could be done with the whole-hearted co-operation extended by the Chief Secretary, Secretaries to the Government, Deputy Commissioners and other field officers.”
If the full scale study on the formation of District Councils is to be taken up, it is not possible without having understanding of both the genesis of the Sixth Schedule and the difference between the Fifth Schedule and the Sixth Schedule. The provision of Autonomous District Council is incorporated in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India which is now popularly known as the Sixth Schedule.
The Tribal Areas had drawn special attention of administration since the pre-independent era. British Indian administration had governed the tribal areas by indorsing internal administrative freedom since the very inception of extending its rule in the area. With the acquirement of the Diwany of Bengal by Robert Clive in 1765, British rule had extended as far as the border of Assam. Governor General–in-Council had approved the recommendation of David Scot, Magistrate of Rangpur as regards the establishment of North East Rangpur Civil Commissioner by slicing some area of the Rangpur Magistrate jurisdiction in 1816. Consequently, the Regulation X of 1822 was enforced. It was the first Regulation enforced by the British for administering the tribal areas of North East India. This regulation laid down a special plan for administration of justice adaptable to peculiar custom and prejudice of the region. Moreover, thinking it as a necessary step for preservation of ethnic identity of the tribals, Garo Hills was delinked from the jurisdiction of Civil, Criminal and Revenue Court of the government on 1st March, 1870 by the Garo Hills Act (Act XXII) of 1869. Further, the same Act was also enforced in Naga Hills, Khasi Hills and Jantia Hills from 1st November, 1871. Thus, as a measure for preservation of custom, culture and ethnic identity of the tribals, administrative arrangement was made in such a tactful way.
Considering the situation for safeguarding tribals of eastern part of Bengal, the British Indian administration had enacted the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 which was popularly known as Inner Line Regulation or Inner Line Permit. This Inner Line Permit was also enforced in Kamrup,Darang, Nowgong, Sibsagar, Lakhimpur, Garo Hills, Khasi and Jantia Hills, Naga Hills and Cachar from 1st January, 1873. These districts and Goalpara were declared to be under the jurisdiction of the Governor General-in-Council by the Government of India Act, 1854. When the Chief Commissioner Province of Assam was created by reorganizing the geographical area of Bengal in 1874, Inner Line Permit continued to function in these nine Hills districts. Besides, Schedule Districts Act of 1874 was enforced in the hill districts where Inner Line Permit was not yet extended and those areas were also subsequently brought under the Inner Line Regulation afterwards.
Schedule District signifies those backward districts where normal administration could not be carried out. Due to that, the entire tribal dominated backward districts were declared as Scheduled Districts by the Schedule Districts Act of 1874. The Assam Frontier Tract Regulation had given wide powers to Chief Commissioner in order to enhance development of the backward districts of Assam. As per the notification issued by Section 52 A(2)n of the Government of India Act of 1915-1919, the Governor General–in-Council had declared certain districts of Assam as Backward Tracts. The terminology “Backward Tract” was changed into Excluded Area by the Government of India Act of 1935. Excluded Area means backward most tribal areas which were under the direct rule of the Governors and districts which were categorized as excluded area had no representation in the Provincial Legislature.
Whereas, districts which were categorized as partially excluded Area were under the provincial government and they had representatives in the provincial legislature. However, the law enacted by provincial legislature could not be enforced in the partially excluded area without the approval of the Governor. Moreover, the Governor could also use his discretionary power without consulting the provincial government in the partially excluded area.
The Cabinet Mission, sent by the British Parliament under Sir Stafford Cripps had made a public statement on 16 March, 1946 which had also suggested for the formation of an Advisory Committee, to study upon the rights of minorities and tribals of excluded area. Accordingly, an Advisory Committee on fundamental rights, minorities and Tribal and Excluded Area was set up with Vallabhai Patel as the Chairman on 24th January, 1947 by the Constituent Assembly. The main task of the committee was to work out a modus operandi in the constitutional arrangement for tribals of excluded and partially excluded area and to enable them to safeguard their ethnic identity and culture in a democratic way.
Out of the three sub-committees which were set up by the Advisory Committee on 2nd February, 1947, only the following two sub-committees continued to function with respect to the rights and status of the tribals after partition of the country into India and Pakistan on 14 August, 1947:
1. North East Frontier (Assam) Tribal and Excluded Area Committee.
2. Excluded and partially excluded areas in provinces other than Assam.
Gopinath Bordoloi was Chairman of the North East Frontier (Assam) Tribal and Excludeed Area Committee and other members of the committee were Rev.JJM Nicholas Roy, Rup Nath Brahma, A.V. Thakkar and Mayang Nokcha. Mayang Nokcha replaced Aliba Imti, the previous member who was from Naga Hills. The committee was also popularly known as Bordoloi Committee after the name of its Chairman and the then Chief Minister of Assam, Gopinath Bordoloi. A.V. Thakkar was Chairman of the Excluded and partially Excluded Area (other than Assam) sub-committee.
The Bordoloi Committee submitted its report to Vallabhai Patel, Chairman, Advisory Committee on 28th July, 1947. The report dealt with various aspects relating to administration of the tribal areas such as thoughts on development, special feature of these areas, land, forest, control of immigration, service etc. The Advisory Committee discussed the report on 7th December, 1947 and 24 February, 1948. The Drafting Committee also studied the report on 13 February, 1948. BN Rau, Constitutional Advisor had put the report in the Sixth Schedule and after rearrangement Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Chairman, Drafting Committee put the same in the Sixth Schedule.
The Draft Schedule was submitted to Dr. Rajendra Prasad, President of the Constituent Assembly on 21st February, 1949 and the matter was discussed in the Constituent Assembly on 5, 6 and 7 September, 1949. There was heated exchange of words between the supporters and opponents of the Draft Schedule. Rajeshwar Prasad from Bihar as well as Rohini Kumar Chaudhury and Kuladhar Chaliha from Assam were quite vocal in their arguments against the establishment of District Council under the draft Sixth Schedule. They categorically stated that, instead of guaranting autonomy, the hill areas should be assimilated with the plains. Kuladhar Chaliha had even alleged that in the like manner in which Pakistan was created, the Sixth Schedule would create Tribalistan which would be a great threat to national integration, However, Dr.B.R. Ambedkar, Gopinath Bordoloi, A.V. Thakkar, Jaipal Singh and Rev. JJM Nichols Roy spoke strongly in favour of the Sixth Schedule provision.
In the course of the heated debate in the Constituent Assembly, Rev. JJM Nichols Roy stated that there were different types of tribals and tribals of Assam were lovers of democracy. So, the proposed democratic set-up would be convenient for them because they had already experienced such type of system from before. Over and above that Rev. JJM Nichols Roy also had submitted a memorandum to the Cabinet Mission, demanding the creation of a political set-up where the tribals would be able to govern themselves. Therefore, Rev. JJM Nichols Roy had enormously contributed in the genesis and emergence of Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India. As a matter of fact, Rev. JJM Nichols Roy was regarded as an architect of the District Council autonomy.
Gopinath Bordoloi also played a great role in the genesis of the Sixth Schedule. He wrote a letter to Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Chairman of the Advisory Committee and stated that social custom, tribal organization, culture and language of tribal could be preserved only if an autonomous political set-up was established for them. After a long and heated debate in the Constituent Assembly and after certain amendments were made, the Sixth Schedule finally emerged and was incorporated in Art. 244(2) read with 275(1) of the Constitution of India. Along with that, preservation of custom, culture, language and ethnic identity of tribals of Excluded and Partially Excluded areas other than Assam was incorporated in the Fifth Schedule in Art. 244(1) of the Constitution of India.
The Constituent Assembly also accepted the suggestions of the Bordoloi Committee and the Excluded and Partially Excluded Area (other than Assam) Committee, as a result, tribal inhabited areas under the Fifth Schedule are known as “Scheduled Area” and tribal inhabited areas under the Sixth Schedule are known as “Tribal Area”. It is clearly incorporated in the Constitution of India that even if an area is exclusively tribal dominated area, it cannot be called a Tribal Area if Sixth Schedule Provision to the Constitution of India is not enforced in that area.
Sixth Schedule Areas were categorized into two parts at the initial stage. Those areas where the people were a bit developed, and where democratic political institution could be established were listed in part A. In fact, the areas where District Council could be established were listed in Part A. On the other hand, the backward most areas where establishment of democratic system was not possible were categorized in Part B. Therefore, the Governor of Assam was given discretionary power for administering tribals in Part B of the Sixth Schedule.
Moreover, Part B is also identified as the Sixth Schedule where there is no District Council. However, even under part A, District Council could not be established in Naga Hills due to rejection of District Council status by the Nagas under the influence of insurgency movement spearheaded by A.Z. Phizo. The Constitution Thirteenth Amendment Bill for the creation of Naga State of Nagaland was inaugurated by Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, the then President of India at Kohima on 1st December, 1963. As a result, Naga Hills and Naga Tribal Area no longer appeared in the Sixth Schedule. After that, NEFA (North East Frontier Agency) also got Union Territory with a new name, Arunachal Pradesh in 1972 and it was no longer seen in the Sixth Schedule.
The Sixth Schedule was amended again with the reorganization of Assam and creation of Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh from the undivided Assam. Furthermore, the category for listing Tribal Areas under the Sixth Schedule provision was also changed from Part A and part B to Part-I, Part-II and Part-III. With the approval of the Tripura Assembly, the Parliament again amended the Sixth Schedule and Tripura Tribal Area Autonomous District Council was included in Part-II A of the Sixth Schedule with effect from 1st April, 1985.
Eminent lawyer and former Vice President of India, M, Hidayatullah said, “Fifth and Sixth Schedules are constitution within a constitution.” He further highlighted that these two schedules incorporated the setting up of a peculiar political set-up in certain tribal areas. However the difference with some other parts of the Indian Constitution is that some provisions of the Constitution can be amended only by 2/3 majority of members of the Parliament and some provision with not just two third majority but approval by at least half of the state is required but in case of the Fifth and Sixth Schedules amendment can be done just by simple majority in Parliament.
Four different councils, namely, Regional Council, District Council, Autonomous Council and Territorial Council appear up till now in the provision of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India. So far as the District Council is concerned, it is still functioning in Mizoram, Tripura and Meghalaya. Further, there are two Autonomous Councils and One Territorial Council in Assam.
The law making powers, incorporated in paragraph 3 of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India is the driving force of District Council autonomy. Certain subjects (department) are handed over to District Councils for enabling them to effectively govern their respective autonomous areas. District Councils in Mizoram are controlling more than 20 departments in average and some of the District Councils claimed that they control as many as 28 departments. Moreover, they control up to Middle School (Upper Primary School) i.e. up to Class VIII in education and they have a parallel District Council Board of Education apart from the State Board. The syllabus, curriculum, academic calendar and examination etc. up to Middle school within the District Council area are under the control of District Council Board of School Education in each Autonomous District Council.
The power, responsibilities and subjects, administered by the District Councils of Mizoram, Meghalaya and Tripura are more or less the same. However, District Councils in Meghalaya seem to constructively exercise their power to the maximum among the District Councils of the three states. The reason being, motor vehicle tax has been levied by District Councils in Meghalaya, many years before District Councils of the other two states are aware of it.
With regard to enforcement of the legislation enacted by State Assembly and Parliament in the District Council area, it is included in Paragraph 12 A for Meghalaya, Paragraph 12 B for Mizoram and Paragraph 12 BB for Tripura. Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council and North Cachar Autonomous Council look after more than 30 departments in average and they are facilitated with administering 15 more departments which are not found in the District Councils. They also control up to Higher Secondary level in education. Lastly, the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) controls 40 departments and looks after up to college level in education.
It is an undeniable fact that the tribes of tribal inhabited areas irrespective of the Schedule Areas and the Tribal Areas are aware of the benefits of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India. Therefore, those tribes who are not facilitated with the Sixth Schedule Provision are clamouring for it. The tribals of the Hills areas of Manipur, some tribes from Assam, Gurkhas of Darjeeling Hills in West Bengal and Brus, Hmars, Paites and minority tribes of Uiphum mountain range of Lawngthai District of Mizoram are still demanding the inclusion of their respective areas in the Sixth Schedule provision.
But the case of tribals of the Hills areas of Manipur is different from those of other tribals of tribal inhabited area of different states. Six Autonomous District Councils were introduced in the Hills areas of Manipur with the enactment of the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act, 1971. But it is doubtless true that this very important Act was not enacted in accordance with the appropriate provisions of the Constitution of India. His Excellency, D.R. Kohli, the then Lt. Governor of Union Territory of Manipur was too enthusiastic to take the risk in making laws violating the constitutional provision. It is Constitution which gives guide-lines about political, social and economic set-up of the country. In India all the laws of the land must be according to the provision of the Constitution. All such laws which go against any article of the Constitution can be declared as unconstitutional or ultra-vires of the constitution by the courts of law of the country.
If the Lt. Governor were determined to introduce Autonomous District Councils in the Hill areas of Manipur he should have taken into account the legality and genesis of the Autonomous District Council at the time of giving direction to D.G. Bhave, the then Chief Secretary of Manipur to take up preparatory work for the establishment of the District Councils. They should have looked to the Constitutional history of India for guidance and to understand the consequences of any errors if committed amidst the contemporary politics of the region. Further, they should have been more cautious particularly during this period in taking up such a step for the formation of Autonomous District Councils as a part of administrative reforms inasmuch as it was the transition stage in the history of Manipur politics. Everybody in both the hill and the valley of Manipur was always in the celebrating mood because of their happiness when Manipur became a full fledged state on the 21st January, 1972 with a legislative assembly of 60 members of whom 19 were reserved for scheduled tribes and 1 for scheduled castes. The leaders of all the political parties of both the hill and the valley of Manipur were busy for their preparation to take part in the forthcoming First Manipur Legislative Assembly Elections.
In such a tight situation D.G. Bhave as a Special Officer (Reorganisation) had issued a notification along with the introduction of the Manipur (Hills Areas) District Council Act, 1971 in such a way, “Any suggestions about the contents of this manual should be forwarded to Secretary to Government of Manipur, Planning and Development Department. Volume II consists of forms and statements required under the Rules.” The then tribal intellectuals of different hill areas of Manipur were compelled to examine the contents of the manual and compare the proposed enactment with the Manipur (Village Authorities in Hill Areas) Act, 1956 with reference to Art. 244(1) and (2) read with Art. 275(1) of Indian Constitution. Besides, they were also bound to study the historical courses and practices of Local Institutions inclusive of both the Autonomous District Council and the Local Self Government. In India, whatever Local Institutions are functioning at present, owe their origin to the British rule. Before the enforcement of the British Indian Regulation X of 1822 for administering the tribal areas of North East India the first Local Body, viz, the Corporation of Madras was created in India in 1687. The Principle was partly extended to other Presidency towns in 1726. In 1850, an Act was passed which permitted the establishment of Local Bodies in any town of the British India. The present system of local self-government in India is chiefly modelled on the lines of the Borough and County Councils of England.
Whether the leaders of the leading political parties like Naga Integration Council, Kuki National Assembly and social platform Zeliangrong Union, etc. had responded to D.G. Bhave’s notification by way of giving suggestions or objections in time is open to question. Yet the enactment of the Act by Parliament in the name and title of The Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council Act, 1971 with the indiscretion of all concerned afforded the very Act to the adversaries resulting in the occurrence of series of agitations in non-too-distant a period after holding the 1st Autonomous District Councils Elections in 1973 at the behest of the Sixth Schedule demand movement.
In the post independence period, Manipur Government had introduced Pachayati Raj system in 1960 under the Panchayati Raj Act, 1947 and the first Panchayat election was held in 1964. Manipur’s own “The Manipur Panchayati Raj Act, 1975” has been in force since 1976. As regards the urban areas, Assam Municipality Acts, 1923 and 1959 were introduced in the Imphal Municipality administration. Manipur Municipality Act, 1976 replaced the former Acts and started to operate in the urban areas of Manipur.
Over the years, efforts are constantly being made on the part of Manipur Government to enact its won legislations strictly in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. But the state Government has still ignored to take cognizance of the profound implications of constitutional status given to the Autonomous District Councils and efforts are not being made to remedy the wrong things that had happened in the enactment of the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council Act, 1971.
There would not be such a problem if the Constituent Assembly had taken up the issue of Manipur as regards the enforcement of Sixth Schedule before the finalization of the Constitution of India. By 1946, the Constituent Assembly had started functioning and on independence the Constituent Assembly became sovereign in character. The Constitution was finalized on 26th November, 1949 after about three years of work. On 15th October 1949 the merger of Manipur and Tripura into the Union of India was declared. However, there was no difficulty in the case of Tripura. With the approval of the Tripura Assembly, the Parliament amended the Sixth Schedule for the inclusion of Tripura tribal area Autonomous District Council into the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India.
Before Manipur attained statehood, there had been no popular Ministry in the State since October 16, 1969 as a result of stepping down of M. Koireng, the then Chief Minister of the Union Territory of Manipur till March 23, 1972 on which Md. Alimuddin took oath as the first Chief Minister of Manipur State Legislative Assembly. During such a long period of the Central rule, although the Lt. Governor D.R. Kohli could not complete his plan to enact the law, His Excellency B.K. Nehru, the first Governor of the full-fledged state Manipur was unavoidably responsible to approve the plan and accordingly put up the same to the Parliament so that Constitution might be amended to include the hill areas of Manipur into the Sixth Schedule. Instead, he had given approval to the present status of the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council Act, 1971.
Shri Rishang Keishing had endeavored for the introduction of Sixth Schedule in Manipur while he was the Chief Minister but it was on his own individual effort. It may be seen from the extract of his letter addressed to S.B. Chavan, Union Home Minister :
“Dear Shri S.B. Chavan,
Please refer to my D.O. letter No. MB/CM/95 dated 6th May, 1995, I had suggested that when 6th schedule is introduced in Manipur, there should be single Council for all the Hill Districts. However, on further consultation, I find that there will be some problem for a single council for all the hill districts as constituted in the 6th Schedule. Our suggestion now is that 4(four) Autonomous District Councils and 2(two) Autonomous Regions should be constituted.
The Sixth Schedule may also be amended as follows.
(i) Keeping in view the principle of the equity, democratic………….. social harmony, ecological concerns and sustainable development should be inserted under para 3 after the words “law making power.”
(ii) Under para 3(1)(a), the word ‘transfer’ may be included in between words “Allotment” and “Occupation.”
(iii) All the subjects mentioned in the 11th Schedule should …….. under the perview of the District Council.
I shall be thankful if the Bill extending the 6th Schedule in Manipur is introduced during the present session of the Parliament covering the amendment as indicated. I am getting a detailed note prepared.
My colleques Prof. Gangumei Kamei, Minister of Higher Education and Prof. M. Horam, Chairman of the Hill Areas Committee along with Prof. B.K. Roy Burman who is chairman of the Madhya Pradesh Govt. Committee on problems of introduction of Six Schedule in the State and who has agreed to be the Chairman of Manipur Govt. Committee on Social Policy would meet you according to your convenience during 29th May and 1st June, 1995 to provide any clarification that you may require.
With warm regards.
Rishang Keishing knew very well the scope and limit of Art. 244(2) of the Constitution. If he had secured the approval of the Manipur Legislative Assembly as to the extension of 6th Schedule to the Hill Areas of Manipur, it might be one of the leading parts in the making of administrative reforms of Manipur. However, the issue remains unsolved till today. Shri Holkhomang Haokip while he was the Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) also moved a petition to Vinkatachalaya, Chairman, National Constitution Review Committee for extension of Sixth Schedule under the Constitution of India to the existing Six Autonomous District Councils of the Hill Areas of Manipur. The following excerpt of his petition may be seen:
With due respect and honour, I would like to bring the following few facts before your commission for your perusal and further recommendation. That Sir, under the North East Reorganisation Act, 1971, the State of Manipur was given full-fledged Statehood along with the states of Meghalaya and Tripura which culminated to granting of the Six Autonomous District Councils in all hill areas of Manipur. These councils were established under the pattern of 5th Schedule to the Indian Constitution as suspected and believed by the Tribals of Manipur. However, the working of these Councils for the past 15 years and its experiences was found to be inadequate with no empowerment to the people in any manner. It has, in fact, belied the hopes, rights and aspirations of the Tribal people of Manipur.
It is further to be noted that under the Re-organisation Provision, the Hill Area Committee consisting of 20 MLAs in the Manipur Assembly was formed to look after all the affairs and administration of Tribal areas, except financial matter which is but a farce. Therefore, the Sixth Schedule Demand Committee (SDCM), Manipur has been demanding for the extension of Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India to all the Hill Areas of Manipur.
Their demand has been endorsed and approved by the Cabinet (Govt. of Manipur) on 13/05/1991 and subsequently on 17th August, 1992.
The rest of the North-East States of India have been enjoying the benefits of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution for the last 53 years or so while Manipur Tribals are keeping quite in no good sign. We deserve to make available the provisions under Art. 244(2) and Art. 275 (1) of the constitution.
I, therefore, as the representative of my tribal people, request your Hon’ble Commission to kindly accept the proposed Administrative structure of the Council and draft modalities of the Sixth Schedule Demand Committee, Manipur and to further recommend the same to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs under the 73rd Amendment Act of the Constitution of India.
The proceedings taken up by Rishang Keishing as a Chief Minister and Holkhomang Haokip as a Member of Parliament (LS) have clearly shown that the Parliament will amend the Constitution if the inclusion of the Hill Areas of Manipur into the Sixth Schedule is to be taken up. But, the amendment will be proceeded only with the approval of the Manipur Legislative Assembly.
Its appropriate precedent is the resolution adopted by the Tripura Legislative Assembly thereby approving the inclusion of the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council into the Sixth Schedule in compliance with the provision of Art. 244(2) read with Art. 275(1) of the Constitution. But the two leaders had not maneuvred to move for such a resolution of the Manipur Legislative Assembly during their prime times.
The Manipur District Council is growing more controversial, filled with debates, arguments, even uncontrollable agitations over what the government should or should not do, whether the agitators are right or wrong or whether the government should do this way or that way. And, to many the controversy seems confusing. But the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India is really neither confusing nor inexplicable. An interesting character of the Sixth Schedule is the emergence of its supporters and opponents. Exaggeration and misconception have often overshadowed rationalism and reality approach upon the issue of the Sixth Schedule. Opponents of the Sixth Schedule exaggerate in such a manner that it amounts to breaking up of the State power whereas, supporters of the Sixth Schedule claim it again as a replica of Union Territory or Statehood status. In fact, terming the extension of Sixth Schedule as amounting to breaking away of the state boundary or diminishing power of the State on one hand and terming the Sixth Schedule as an analogue to Union Territory or State on the other are all Utopian misnomers. Therefore, the two extreme views should be carefully synthesized and mature and corrective approach should be adopted on the issue of the Sixth Schedule.
It is not so difficult to find the solution in this regard because the unique features of Autonomous District Councils are the characteristics of a Local Institution, not of the Union Territory or the State Government. The best way to synthesize the two extreme views is to make the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act, 1971 a Perfect Document by approving the same without bias, prejudice and fear on the part of the ruling political party or coalition parties on the floor of Assembly for the inclusion of the Hill Areas of Manipur into the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India. The guide line is also given by the Indian Constitution. It is the reminiscence of the Indian National Movement which had clearly stated what the structure of politics and society would be in free India. These formulations were naturally of decisive importance in the making of the Indian Constitution. At various stages, the Congress had promised to the people of India: (a) Universal Adult Franchise; (b) A set of fundamental right, including complete political freedom; (c) a degree of social and economic equality; (d) Local Self-government, with emphasis on the Local Institution.
Any sort of acts of the State Government such as various amendment proceedings, local adjustment or adaptation order, handing over of more departments, devolution of more power, conduct of elections, and punitive measures against agitators etc. whatsoever will not cure the shortcomings and imperfections of the Manipur District Councils Act. Indeed, the sole authority to transform the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act, 1971 into a living thing is the Manipur Legislative Assembly.