That the Legislative Assembly of Manipur was not convened on Monday, as recommended by the Council of Ministers, is an indication of how grave the crisis gripping the State is. Governor Anusuiya Uikey did not issue the notification summoning the House, even though the Cabinet had advised her on August 4 itself to call for the session on August 21. The delay on the part of Raj Bhavan in issuing the notification is presumably due to the political and law and order situation in the State. Legislators of Kuki ethnicity, across party affiliations, have expressed their inability to attend the Assembly session due to the prevailing atmosphere, as violence continues in parts of the State. It is unlikely that the Governor is unaware of the constitutional position that she is bound by the advice of the government with regard to summoning the Assembly. A Constitution Bench had made this clear in Nabam Rebia (2016). Whether the Governor is guided by her own wisdom or the Union government’s assessment of the situation, it is difficult to justify the failure to hold the Assembly session as sought by the Council of Ministers. The last session of the Manipur Assembly was held in March, and the House has to meet again before the expiry of six months from its previous sitting. The period ends on September 2.
There have been both political and civil society demands for the Assembly to meet and discuss the violence that broke out early in May over a High Court order that directed the Manipur government to respond to a communication from the Union Ministry for Tribal Affairs on recommending the grant of Scheduled Tribe status to the Meitei community. The delay on the Governor’s part in notifying the session casts a shadow on the legitimacy and authority of the government headed by Chief Minister N. Biren Singh. The Governor would be well-advised to act on the Cabinet’s recommendation. On another issue, there appears to be an unusual delay in the appointment of Justice Siddharth Mridul, a judge of the Delhi High Court, as the Manipur High Court’s Chief Justice. The court has been under an Acting Chief Justice for several months now. Reports suggest that the Centre has forwarded the Collegium’s recommendation to the State government for its consent. The question arises whether any constitutional functionary in the State is holding back the process. The chain of events set off by an order passed by the Acting Chief Justice has already witnessed much violence and disorder, and the State should not lapse into further constitutional disarray.