The Supreme Court on May 17 while hearing a slew of petitions seeking its intervention in the Manipur violence, chastised the Manipur High Court for its recent judgement, which directed the Manipur government to submit a recommendation to the Tribal Affairs Ministry for the inclusion of the Meitei/Meetei community in the Scheduled Tribe list of the Indian Constitution within four weeks of the order's date.
Justice MV Muralidharan, Acting Chief Justice of the High Court of Manipur, who took office on February 6, 2023, directed the same at the final disposition of a Civil Writ Petition brought by eight members of the Meetei (Meitei) Tribe Union led by Union Secretary Mutum Churamani Meetei.
In the midst of the ongoing demand and opposition to granting ST status to non-tribals, which has resulted in massive ethnic clashes between the Kuki-Zomi tribals and the Meitei community, a bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justices P S Narasimha and J B Pardiwala ruled on Wednesday that Justice MV Muralidharan's judgement was factually incorrect.
The court further stated that the order violated the standards established by Supreme Court Constitution bench decisions on the classification of groups as Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes.
“We have to stay the order of the Manipur HC. It is completely factually wrong and we gave time to Justice Muralidharan to remedy his error and he did not...we have to take a strong view against it now,” quoted CJI DY Chandrachud.
On May 17, the Supreme Court also ordered the Manipur government to provide a new report on all relief and rehabilitation initiatives.
Several tribal civil groups, including the United Naga Council (UNC), the main Naga civic organisation, vehemently denounced the Manipur High Court's March 27, 2023, inane judgement. In their censure, the UNC stated that the Manipur High Court's directive to the Manipur government to advocate the inclusion of the Meitei/ Meetei population in the ST category is unreasonable. It went on to say that such an order contradicts the basic purpose of scheduling a group of persons for protection against discrimination as ST in the Indian Constitution.
Similarly, the Kuki Inpi Manipur (KIM), the apex organisation of Kuki tribals stated in a condemnation note that the Meetei/Meitei community, which accounts for approximately 60% of the total population of Manipur and holds 40 of the 60 seats in the Manipur Legislative Assembly, is considered an advanced community that has not been recognised as STs by successive governments.
Copyright©2023 Living Media India Limited. For reprint rights: Syndications Today