This article is written by Shruti Kulshreshtha of Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad. It explains the concept of Inner line Permit and its connection with the Citizenship Amendment Act. It also deals with the States that require an Inner Line Permit and the requirements for foreign tourists.
The President of India, Ramnath Kovind signed the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019, and made it enforceable in India. This Act does not apply to the states having an inner line permit system and the tribal areas included in the sixth schedule. There have been many protests in the northeastern states of India upon the passing of this bill. The protestors not only demand the revocation of the Act but have also put forth the requirement of implementing the Inner Line Permit system in all the states of the north-east.
What is the Inner Line permit
The Inner Line Permit (hereinafter referred to as “ILP”) is a permit or a document required to enter the boundaries of a protected area for a specific period of time. This permit is obligatory for all those Indian citizens who reside outside the states protected by the ILP system. An ILP can be issued for travel purposes only. A person holding an ILP cannot stay in such a protected area beyond the specified time. This concept of ILP has originated from the colonial era. The British government imposed regulations under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act, 1873 where entry and stay of outsiders in certain areas were restricted. The primary motive of this restriction was to guard the commercial prospects of the British from the British subjects or Indians in the matters of trade. They wanted to reserve these designated areas for conducting their trade and eliminate any chance of intrusion. Under Section 2 of the Regulation, the ILP system applied to Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh. Manipur was later added to the ILP regime, becoming the fourth state to attain this protection. In the year 1950, the Indian government replaced the words “British Subjects” with the words “Citizens of India” in the Regulation of 1873.
An ILP can be issued either online or physically by the state government. It mentions the time and the areas in which the ILP holder can travel. The government intends to regulate movement near the north-eastern border of the country and is still issued in order to safeguard the indigenous communities residing in north-east India. There are various kinds of ILPs issued that depend upon the purpose of visit to the protected area such as a tourist ILP, ILP for tenants, ILP for long-term, etc. The concerned State issued an ILP. It is quite convenient to apply for an ILP online. After filling the correct information and uploading the required documents, a fee is required to be paid. The eILP can be printed upon the approval of the documents. Group ILPs are also issued by the government.
The Indian States which require a permit
Only 4 north-eastern states have the Inner Line Permit system in place. These States are:
ILP is issued by the Secretary of the Government of Arunachal Pradesh and can be issued either online or offline. An ILP is required to enter the boundaries of Arunachal Pradesh from its interstate border with Assam and Nagaland. ILP for a temporary visit is for a period of 7 days whereas that for employment purposes is for a year. Upon the expiry of an ILP, the visitor shall apply for its renewal. The fee for a single eILP is ₹100, but the only disadvantage with a single eILP is that it takes a certain amount of time to be processed and issued. To avoid this, an Instant eILP is issued by the Arunachal Pradesh Government by charging a fee of ₹ 400. The application procedure is quite simple and is available on the official website. The documents required are a PAN card or Aadhar card or Driving License or Passport or Voter ID and a passport size photo of the applicant. After processing these documents as well as the fee, the ILP is issued to the applicant.
The permit is granted by the Government of Mizoram and is mandatory for entering the State via any inter-state borders. There are two types of ILP issued in Mizoram:
- Temporary ILP: Valid for a period of 15 days and can be renewed for another 15 days. The fee for a temporary ILP is ₹ 120 and ₹20 is required at the time of renewal.
- Regular ILP: Valid for 6 months at a time and can be renewed twice for 6 months each. However, for attaining a regular ILP, sponsorship of a resident or the Government Department. Total fees are ₹ 220 and renewal fees are ₹ 100. ILP cannot be issued at the check gate while entering the state. It should be applied for well in advance. The application form is available on the official website of the Government of Mizoram. However, government officials who are visiting Mizoram for official purposes are exempted from this system.
ILP is issued by the Government of Nagaland. The application form can be filled either offline or online. But, only tourists can apply for an ILP online. Other categories such as traders/businessmen, labourers, teachers, students, etc. can obtain ILP manually by contacting the authorities as mentioned on their official website. An online ILP is approved within 4 hours whereas an offline ILP can take days to get approved. There are different categories in which one can avail ILP in Nagaland:
- Traders/Labourers: Valid for 3 months on payment of ₹ 100 per person.
- Teachers: Valid of 1 year against fee payment of ₹ 500 per person.
- Students: Valid for 1 year with ₹100 fees.
- Tourists: ₹50 per person for 15 days and ₹ 100 per person for 30 days.
The Manipur People’s Protection Bill, 2018 was drafted but could not be implemented by the Manipur Government. Thereafter, Manipur got its inclusion in the ILP system in 2019 when the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 introduced this system here. Hence, it is the most recent state to join the other three states in the ILP regime. There are 4 permit types:
- Special Category: Government servants, contractors, investors and traders with a business establishment in Manipur fall under this category and are required to fill Form A. The fees for a special permit is ₹5000 in the first instance and ₹10,000 subsequently. This permit is valid for 3 years, after which it can be renewed.
- Regular Permit: People who visit Manipur frequently and who possess a sponsorship from a resident of the state can apply for a regular permit which is valid for 6 months. An applicant shall fill Form B and needs to pay ₹500 at first instance and ₹1000 upon renewal.
- Temporary Permit: This permit is for a short period of time and is issued to tourists and business representatives for 15 days. After filling Form C, the applicant has to pay ₹ 100 as fees and ₹200 for renewal.
- Labour Permit/ Bulk Permit: When a company or contractor brings a group of labourers in the state, then a labour permit is issued by filling Form D. For this, ₹100 is paid for each individual and ₹100 per person upon renewal.
The members of the armed forces are exempted from obtaining an ILP in Manipur. The application form is available on its official website.
Inner Line Permit for Foreign Tourists
ILP is valid for domestic tourists only. That is, the above rules of ILP apply only to Indian citizens. In the case of foreign tourists in these states, the following rules are applicable:
- Arunachal Pradesh: Arunachal Pradesh has a Foreigner (Protected Areas) Act which states that a foreigner who wishes to visit Arunachal Pradesh shall obtain a Protected Area Permit (PAP). It specifically states that NRIs, PIO cardholders, and OCI holders are not eligible to apply for an ILP. The fees applicable for attaining this permit is $30, which is the same for all nationalities. A PAP is issued for a period of 10 days and can be extended by 7 additional days. Generally, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued a PAP, however, it can also be applied with FRROs and All India Mission Abroad. The exception to this rule is that the citizens of Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, and Myanmar can obtain PAP only by applying at the Ministry of Home Affairs. The application form is available on its official website.
- Mizoram: Foreign Nationals do not require any permit while entering the borders of Mizoram. However, all foreigners have to mandatorily register themselves with the Office of Superintendent of Police of Mizoram within 24 hours of arrival in the state. However, the citizens of Afghanistan, China, and Pakistan are required to get a permit before entering Mizoram from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
- Nagaland: No permit is required for foreign nationals to enter the state of Nagaland. But, they shall register themselves with the Foreigner’s Registration Officer (FRO) of the district which they visit, within 24 hours of their arrival.
- Manipur: The regulations of ILP do not apply to foreigners in Manipur. However, foreigners visiting Manipur need to register at the CID office in Imphal. Foreigners visiting Manipur by road from Nagaland may register at the Mao Gate checkpost for an immigration check. Foreigners visiting Manipur by air need to register at the immigration counter located at the Bir Tikendrajit International Airport in Imphal.
The relation between ILP & Citizenship Amendment Bill
The Citizenship Amendment Bill aims to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 and grant Indian citizenship to Non-muslim refugees residing in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. The Bill specifically focuses on Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists who are refugees in these countries.
Now, if Indian citizenship is granted to these refugees, it would imply that these people cannot reside in the states which are protected by the ILP, which are Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Manipur. Assam and Tripura have suffered the maximum influx of illegal undocumented refugees since they share the longest borders with Bangladesh. As ILP is not applicable in Assam and Tripura, the State Governments are concerned that all the refugee-turned-citizens will reside in their states. Assam has been in protests against illegal immigrants since the 1970s and the current bill has made the situation even worse. The officials of Assam state that 26% of the State’s population is constituted of indigenous tribes and they fear that the huge influx of these migrants will hamper the identity of these tribes. Groups like Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad have organized many protests regarding the implementation of ILP in Assam. Even the North East Indian Students’ Organization has demanded the enforcement of the ILP system in Assam, claiming that Assam shares the longest border with Bangladesh, making it fall in the same category as the states having ILP. They also stated that ILP should apply to all the North-eastern states, not only 4.
Meghalaya also opposed the bill and in response amended its laws. However, it is not official yet and hence, no one is clear with regards to Meghalaya’s stand in this issue. Although the bill exempts the citizenship of migrants in the tribal areas mentioned in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, which includes Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Tripura, these migrants are permitted to reside in the other areas of these states. Only limited tribal areas are protected by the sixth schedule rather than the whole state, as in the case of ILP.
The Inner Line Permits plays an important role in keeping the tribes of the north-eastern states safe and uninfluenced. The States not having the ILP system in place are worried that the migrants can take away the identity of their tribal areas. Earlier, there was a smaller possibility of this happening, but the Citizenship Amendment Act has made the occurrence highly possible, which is surging the protests. Quick action is required for settling this issue so that the states, as well as the migrants, feel protected.
LawSikho has created a telegram group for exchanging legal knowledge, referrals and various opportunities. You can click on this link and join: