All You Need to Know About Inner Line Permit
This Blog is written by Tamanna Kapoor from Symbiosis Law School, Noida. Edited by Ravikiran Shukre.
India is a country that’s known for its diversity and this is not only because of the presence of various different ethnic and cultural groups but also because it tries its best to protect these groups. The North-Eastern belt of India is one that is known for its indigenous tribes and their customs. To protect the same, there are some special restrictions in place, and one such restriction is the Inner Line Permit (ILP) which is a special travel permit that is required by all the Citizens of India who are not the citizens of that particular state. At present, the ILP is only required in four such states namely, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur (which was added to the list recently).
The origin of this said permit can be traced back to the British Raj. In the year 1873, an Act called the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act, 1873 was passed by the British government which framed various regulation that both restricted the entry as well as regulated the stay of outsiders in certain areas in the northeast of India. The reason for this was to make sure that the Crown’s commercial interests are protected as this would prevent the “British subjects”, that is, the Indians from trading within that region. Though, after independence, in 1950, the Government of India replaced the words “British citizens” with “Citizens of India”, the basic structure and requirement of the permit remained the same. Unlike the British government though the reasoning given by the Indian Government was that this is done as to protect the interests of the indigenous people from outsiders belonging to other Indian states.
SIGNIFICANCE AND DEVELOPMENT:
The reason for ILP as stated above is that the indigenous tribes and people of these states are protected. It is to be noted that all the four states that require ILP are home to various tribes and these tribes while some might be involved in the modern-day politics, most like to keep to themselves, that is to say, that any outside interference is not appreciated. Keeping this in mind, it is important to make sure that their interests are protected.
In a developing country like India, every resource, every piece of land, especially fertile and mineral-rich like those found in these areas is seen as an opportunity by many and to have proper regulation is a given if one wants to protect their interests.
While Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland already had this system in place, Manipur is one of the recent states to enter the list. This was done by the way of Manipur People’s Protection Bill, 2018 which defines “Manipuri’s” and “non-Manipuri’s” and seeks to regulate the inflow of people from other states of India. The Bill was passed unanimously by the state assembly and received the President’s assent last year in December, finally coming into effect from January 1, 2020.
CITIZENS OF INDIA:
In Arunachal Pradesh, an IPL can be obtained either by applying online or it can also be obtained from various places including Delhi, Tezpur, Shillong, Kolkata. Another way of obtaining it is, to get it on arrival, say at the airports in the state. The application fee for the same is Rs. 100 per person.
In Mizoram, an ILP can either be obtained from a Liaison Officer, Government of Mizoram from Kolkata, Silchar, Shillong, Guwahati and New Delhi. Moreover, one can also get an ILP on arrival from the Lengpui Airport, Aizawl. However, the permit has to be renewed depending upon the purpose of your visit. While the application fee is Rs. 20 per person, government employees visiting for official purposes are exempt from it.
In Manipur, which is also the most recently added state for the requirement of an ILP, it can be obtained from the various government set up counters. Here, the permit comes in 4 different types, regular permits which are valid for about 6 months, special category permits which are valid for a period of 3 years, temporary permit like those used by tourists so these are only valid for 15 days and finally, labour permits. The application fee varies depending on the type of permit. The exemption, in this case, is to the members of the Armed Forces and their family members as well as central corporations.
In Nagaland, a form has to be filled for an ILP, it can be either online or offline. The payment for the ILP is only to be made after the form that was submitted has been accepted. The application fee here is Rs. 50 per person for a period of 15 days and R.100 for a period of 30 days.
It is to be noted that the details for the permits are given on the official websites set up by the state governments.
In certain regions of Leh to, it is necessary to obtain an ILP, a list of these areas can be found on the official websites. Also, the overall fee for an ILP is comparatively more than that in the northeast region of the country. The requirement of an ILP in Leh is debated on several occasions and there was a time period from 2014-2017 when this requirement was abolished. Though it was reintroduced for the restricted areas located near the borders of China and Pakistan.
Even though the requirement of ILP is only necessary for Indian citizens, it does not mean that there aren’t any other regulations for foreigners coming to visit these states.
In Arunachal Pradesh, tourist needs either a Restricted Area Permit (R.A.P) or a Protected Area Permit (P.A.P) directly from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. In case the tourists are travelling in a group of at least four people then the R.A.P can be obtained from all Foreigners Regional Registration Officers (F.R.R.O) in Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai, Chief Immigration Officer, Chennai and the Commissioner Home, Government of Arunachal Pradesh, Itanagar.
In Mizoram, all the foreigners need to register at the office of the Superintendent of Police (CID/SB) as that person is also the designated Foreigner’s Registration Officer (F.R.O) of Mizoram. This needs to be done within the first 24 hours of arrival. It is also to be noted that the Citizens and people of origins from three particular countries namely, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan need prior permission to enter the state from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
In Manipur, the requirement is that the foreign nationals who are visiting Manipur have to register their names at the CID Office, Imphal. For the foreigners who are visiting Manipur by road by way of Nagaland have the option of registering for an immigration check at the Mao Gate check post. In case, they are visiting by air then they need to register at the immigration counter at the Bir Tikendrajit International Airport, Imphal.
In Nagaland, no permit is required as such. Though, there is a need to register with the Foreigner’s Registration Officer (F.R.O) of whichever district one visits within a period of 24 hours of the said arrival.
Just like in the above-mentioned four states, Leh also requires a special permit called Protected Area Permit for foreigners travelling in the region.
RELATION TO CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT, 2019:
The reason that this decades-old permit had been in the news is because of last year’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) that were both much-debated issues this previous year. One of the reasons for this was the various concerns of the indigenous population of the North-Eastern states.
The CAA relaxes the eligibility criteria for a certain segment of migrants who are seeking Indian citizenship and are currently the citizens any three of India’s neighbouring (that is, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh). The exemption here once again are the areas that are protected by the ILP. The North-Eastern states basically face an influx of people from Bangladesh but these people would not be able to settle down in the areas that require ILP but it is to be noted that the states that might be affected most are not these four states (though Mizoram does share a border with Bangladesh), the states to be affected the most are Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya.
Other states in the region which are not protected by this provision such as Assam have been seeking out to the Supreme Court of India by the way of petitions in order to get included here. Though till now there has been no relief for them on this matter.
One of the points that can’t be debated upon is the rich diversity of India, sure there can be any a debate within this topic but no one can deny that India is a country full of diverse customs, languages, food, a culture amongst other things. And so, it is important to safeguard this uniqueness of our nation. ILP make just be an official travelling document but to these states, it’s a way of protecting themselves and their people.