Manipur govt must submit recommendation for inclusion of Meitei community in ST list: Lawyer

Imphal, Feb 23 (IANS) The Manipur High Court’s order modifying its March 27, 2023 order in part in in connection with the inclusion of the Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribes (ST) list has evoked mixed reactions from various quarters in the northeastern state.

On Wednesday, the single judge bench of Justice Golmei Gaiphulshillu, after hearing a review petition filed against Para 17 (iii) of the decision dated March 27, 2023 rendered by then acting Chief Justice M.V. Muralidharan on a petition filed by a Meitei organisation, ruled: “The direction given in Para No. 17 (iii) needs to be deleted and is ordered accordingly for deletion of the Para No. 17 (iii) of the judgment and order dated 27.03.2023 passed in W.P.(C) No. 229 of 2023.”

The contentious paragraph No. 17 (iii) of last year’s high court verdict was part of the instruction to the state government to expedite consideration to take up the matter with the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs about the inclusion of the Meitei community in the ST list.

Manipur High Court lawyer Ningombam Bupenda Meitei said that as per the high court’s order, the state government must submit recommendations in reply to a letter of 2013 on the Meitei ST issue sent by the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs to the state government.

He stressed on the reading of two judgments arising from writ petition No. 229 and review petition No. 12 of 2023 together, instead of reading one judgment and interpreting it partially.

He argued that as per the high court’s judgment on writ petition No. 229, there are four clauses in para 17, and in that very para 17, which is the operative part of the judgment, only para 17 clause (iii) stands deleted in the latest judgment of the high court in review petition No. 12.

The review petition judgment did not delete the remaining paras (i), (ii) and (iv), and more importantly para 17 clause (ii) still survives in the writ petition No. 229, the lawyer said, adding that as per the para 17 clause (ii) of the writ petition, the judgment had said that “the first respondent (state of Manipur) is directed to submit the recommendation in reply to the letter dated May 29, 2013 of the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs”.

Bupenda Meitei said that a mere recommendation by the state government is not akin to inclusion of the Meitei community in the ST list, as the enlistment is to be done by the Parliament only through a constitutional amendment.

He also pointed out that the high court has rightly deleted para 17 (iii) of the writ petition through the review petition because the said para was going against the already settled law by the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on the authority and jurisdiction of the Parliament only to decide on the enlisting or delisting of communities from the ST category.

“Neither the Supreme Court nor the high court has the authority to include or exclude a community in the Scheduled Tribe list, as that authority lies only with the Parliament,” the lawyer pointed out.

Meanwhile, a large number of women took out a demonstration on Thursday and Friday demanding to pass a resolution in the state Assembly urging the Centre to include the Meitei community in the ST list.



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