The Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act, 1971

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The Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act, 1971 was enacted on 16th December 1971. Manipur was a Union Territory since 1956 prior to attainment of statehood in 1972. Following the attainment of statehood in 1972; the Government of Manipur enforced the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act, 1971, by constituting six autonomous districts in the hill areas of Manipur. The act has been amended in the year 2000, 2008 and 2011. These amendments are known as Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council Bill, 2000, The Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils (Third Amendment) Act, 2008 and The Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils (Fourth Amendment) Bill, 2011.

Section 2 sub clause (f) defines the term ‘hill areas’ as an area determined by the President under any notification issued under sub- section (2) of section 52 of the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963. All the decision making for an autonomous district shall be made by an Administrator. ‘Administrator’ is defined under section 2 sub clause (a) as an administrator for Union Territory of Manipur appointed under Article 239 of Constitution. The term autonomous district is defined under section 3 sub clause (1) where in the hill areas of Manipur shall not be divided into more than six autonomous districts. Administrator by notification in Official Gazette shall increase, decrease, integrate or alter the boundaries of such autonomous district. Incase an area of such district is to be included in a cantonment board, municipal corporation or a committee the same shall cease to be a part of the autonomous district. The Administrator shall make alterations only in consultation with Hill Areas Committee. There shall be district council for such autonomous districts whose members shall be elected by direct election along with two nominated members appointed by Administrator. The administrator may for the purpose of elections delimit the constituencies. A person inorder to qualify for elections of District Council have to be an elector for any District Council constituency in that autonomous district. However no person who is disqualified as a member of parliament or holds any office under district council be eligible for membership of district council. All the persons whose name is entered into the electoral roll of the constituency is eligible to cast a vote for electing members of District Council. The results of the elections shall be published in gazette by the Administrator. The term of members elected for district council shall be of five years. Section 14 to section 20 deals with disputes arising in elections of district council, in such case District Judge shall have jurisdiction. The order of district judge under section 20 of the act shall be final and conclusive. The administrator under section 21 is granted power to decide rules and procedure for election of district council.

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The district council shall be a body corporate, having perpetual succession; there shall be an elected chairman and vice chairman, the chairman shall be a whole time functionary and look into the affairs of the council. Section 25 expressly lays that no person shall be a member of the Legislative assembly and the District council incase such situation arises such seat shall fall vacant. Section 27 to section 29 speaks of the duties of district council members, such members shall not misappropriate funds, shall work in furtherance of community service and build hospitals, schools, community centres, agriculture productivity, public health and sanitation. The council shall also recommend to Union Government matters relating to customs, inheritance, marriage divorce etc. The district council can appoint their staff and there shall also be a Chief Executive Officer appointed by Administrator. Section 34 to section 41 deal with powers of district council to impose tax, these also includes giving tax exemptions and reduction of taxes. Incase of any appeal against the imposition of taxes the same shall lie to a person nominated by the Administrator. Section 43 speaks that there shall be a council fund which shall include all the money received by the district council. The district council shall act in furtherance of the act for continuous development of the district and incase any person causes an obstruction in the work so carried out shall be punished with fine of rupees fifty. No person under the Act can enter into a contract with the council. The administrator shall make rules under the act for administration of district council. The act also empowers district council to make bye laws. Incase any person breaches the rules and bye laws so made, he shall be punished with fine and imprisonment incase of non payment of fine.

Precisely the district councils were established for smooth administration of Manipur which was a newly merged into the territory of India.

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by Vibhuti Nakta