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Inner-Line Permit (ILP) System

Inner-Line Permit (ILP) System

Why in news?

  • Tribal organisations in Meghalaya have been demanding the ILP system for restricting the entry of outsiders into the State.
  • These demands have turned into violent protests across the state in the past few days.

About Inner-Line Permit (ILP) System

  • A concept drawn by colonial rulers, the Inner Line separated the tribal-populated hill areas in the Northeast from the plains.
  • The Inner Line Permit was implemented as part of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873. It was enacted to protect the commercial interests of the British Empire by preventing its subjects (at the time, Indians) from trading in these regions.
  • Upon independence, the ‘British Citizens’ was replaced with ‘Indian Citizens’. The ILP was applicable earlier to 3 northeastern states: Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.
  • To enter and stay for any period in these areas, Indian citizens from other areas need an Inner Line Permit (ILP).
  • On December 11th 2020, Manipur became the fourth northeastern state after an order to include the Inner Line Permit was signed by President Ram Nath Kovind.
  • ILP determines both the duration of stay and the areas allowed to be accessed for any non-natives.
  • The ILP is issued by the concerned state government and can be availed both by applying online or in person.

Aim of ILP | Inner-Line Permit (ILP) System

  • The main aim of the ILP system is to prevent any settlement of other Indian citizens within the States where the ILP regime is prevalent.
  • To protect the indigenous/tribal population of that area.
  • Illegal migrants and encroachment is checked due to the presence of an ILP.
  • The ILP is an important safeguard to safeguard the delicate demographic balance of the tribals in the Northeast region.

Applicability of ILP | Inner-Line Permit (ILP) System 

  • Manipur: ILP is valid for domestic tourists. No permit is required for foreign tourists but they have to register themselves with the Superintendent of Police (CID/SB).
  • Mizoram: ILP needed for domestic tourists, but foreign tourists have to register themselves with the Superintendent of Police (CID/SB).
  • Nagaland: ILP needed for domestic tourists, but foreign tourists have to register themselves at the nearest police station.
  • Arunachal Pradesh: Tourists need a Protected Area Permit (PAP) or Restricted Area Permit (RAP) from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.

Connection between CAA and ILP system | Inner-Line Permit (ILP) System

  • The Citizenship Amendment Act, CAA, relaxes the eligibility criteria for some specific categories of migrants from three countries who seek Indian citizenship.
  • It exempts a few categories of areas which includes all those protected by the Inner Line system.
  • During the protests that were being held against it, the Adaptation of Laws (Amendment) Order, 2019, amended the BEFR, 1873, extending it to Manipur and parts of Nagaland that were not earlier protected by ILP.

Should Meghalaya be brought under ILP? | Inner-Line Permit (ILP) System

  • The ILP is considered the only mechanism to contain influx in the state.
  • Influx is perceived as dangerous because it could upset the fragile demographic balance of the tribals of Meghalaya.
  • Influx definitely is a matter of concern but it requires better solutions than the ILP, not instant solutions demanded by pressure groups.


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