Ukhrul DC served legal notice on impugned information: Proposed Geological Survey

The approval of the apex customary body is inevitable and that by virtue of the long-standing custom and in the light of Article 371C.

A legal notice was served on Ukhrul Deputy Commissioner on Monday over circulation of what it termed as an ‘impugned information’ that sought cooperation from the district’s village authorities in connection with the proposed geological survey in the district.

Manipur High Court advocate Phokmi Rephung stated that the legal notice was served to seek necessary modification or revocation of the information from the district administrator.

“I have been advised by my client to inform you to revoke/modify the impugned information and/or stop the geological survey immediately. In default, my client may be in a painful necessity to take legal action in the matter without further notice,” he said in the legal notice which was served under the instruction of his client LM Thanmi Shimray, a social activist, currently residing at Hamleikhong, Ukhrul.

He said that the Parliament has passed the Manipur (Village Authorities in Hill Areas) Act, 1956 in the Seventh year of the Republic of India and by virtue of Section 16(1)(a) of the said Act, 1956, maintaining law and order in the village is absolutely within the purview of Village Authority in the Hill Areas of Manipur including Hungpung, Khangkhui Khullen, Paorei, Sihai Khullen, Sihai  Khunou, Khamasom, Peh, Huishu, Shangshak Khullen, Shangshak Khonou, Gamnom, Ukhrul-Talui, Lambui/Ramva and Shokvao villages.
“As such without taking the consent of the respective villages, Geological Survey of India, NER Shillong has no authority to conduct the geological survey and carry out fieldwork and research in the tribal areas including the villages and that, by virtue of Special Provision under Article 371C of the Constitution of India and the subsequent order dated 20th June 1972 issued by the then President V. V. Giri, the hill villages including the above cited villages are absolutely within the subject matter of Hills Area Committee (HAC),” the notice mentioned.

It continued that without referring the matter to the HAC, the Union of India and the State of Manipur also do not have the authority to survey land and forest of the tribal areas of Manipur.

“It is the sovereign duty of the Deputy Commissioner, Ukhrul to protect the life and properties of the tribals living in the district,” it stated, asking the former to also uphold the Preamble of the Constitution and to enforce the Provision guaranteed under the Manipur (Village Authorities in Hill Areas) Act, 1956 including section 16 and section 3.

The notice further contended that the Deputy Commissioner issued the impugned information requesting the concerned village headmen to extend full cooperation during the survey, only after fixing the date of the survey program, thereby defeating the provision guaranteed under Section 16 of the said Act 1956 and Article 371C.

As the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms Act, 1960 is not extended in the tribal areas of Manipur, the tribals, living in the hill areas, are maintaining law and order and protecting their forest and lands in accordance with the social custom as accepted and upheld by the apex Court and the Constitution, it stated.

“Under such situation and circumstances, the approval of the apex customary body is inevitable and that by virtue of the long-standing custom and in the light of Article 371C, the Tangkhuls are protecting their land and forest, the notice maintained, and questioned how the district administration allowed a stranger to conduct geological survey upon the land and forest through backdoor without the knowledge and prior consent of the landowners and TNL.

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