Manipur HC deletes part of earlier order for inclusion of Meiteis in ST list | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Manipur HC deletes part of earlier order on inclusion of Meiteis in ST list

Feb 23, 2024 04:23 AM IST

The order, passed on March 27, 2023, is believed to be one of the main triggers for the ethnic conflict between the Meitei and Kuki communities

Guwahati: The Manipur high court on Wednesday deleted a portion of an earlier order passed by it in March last year directing the state government to consider the inclusion of the Meitei community in the scheduled tribe (ST) list.

Manipur high court (Representative Photo)
Manipur high court (Representative Photo)

The order passed on March 27, 2023, is believed to be one of the main triggers for the ethnic conflict between the Meitei and tribal Kuki communities which broke out in May in which at least 215 lives have been lost to date and over 50,000 displaced.

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Acting on a review petition filed by six members of the Meitei Tribe Union (MTU), (the same people who had filed a petition last year seeking inclusion of the community in the ST list), a single judge bench of justice Golmei Gaiphulshillu, passed another order on Wednesday deleting portions of the March 2023 order.

“The contentious paragraph from last year’s verdict, instructing the state to expedite consideration of Meitei community inclusion, was deemed for deletion”, the court said.

The paragraph, which was deleted, stated the state government “shall consider the case of the petitioners for inclusion of Meetei/Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribes list, expeditiously, preferably within a period of four weeks” from the date of receipt of the order.

The four-week period was extended to one year on May 9, 2023, following an application by the state government seeking an extension of the time limit for execution of the said order.

Also Read: Class 12 state board exams begin in violence-torn Manipur

The order was challenged in the Supreme Court last year by the chairman of the Hill Area Committee of the Manipur Assembly, Dinganglung Gangmei, through a special leave petition (SLP).

The Supreme Court bench led by CJI DY Chandrachud took strong exception to the high court’s order and stated that it was not only factually incorrect but also against the principles laid down by the Constitution Benches of the Court on the classification of communities in the SC/ST list.

After going through several past observations in the top court, the Manipur high court in its order on Wednesday said that Para 17 (iii) of the March 27 order “needs to be reviewed” as it was “against the observation made in the constitution bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court”.

“Accordingly, the direction given at Para No 17 (iii) needs to be deleted and is ordered accordingly for deletion of the Para No 17 (iii) of the judgement and order dated March 27, 2023,” the order passed by Manipur HC on Wednesday while disposing of the review petition, read.

Calls made to office bearers of MTU, who are the petitioners in the case, went unanswered.

Manipur government spokesperson Sapam Ranjan Singh could not be reached for comments and Khuraijam Athouba, spokesperson of the Coordination Committee for Manipur Integrity, a prominent Meitei organisation, said it has no opinion on the demand for ST status for the community.

“The Meitei claimed they have history way back to 30 AD and that they were an advanced race. Such an advanced group of people now demanding to be a backward class (ST) is absurd and ridiculous. The only ploy for the demand of ST by the Meitei is to grab the tribal lands because the constitution of India allows tribal lands to be purchased by tribal alone,” stated Ginza Vualzong of Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF), an influential Kuki organisation.

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    Utpal is a Senior Assistant Editor based in Guwahati. He covers seven states of North-East India and heads the editorial team for the region. He was previously based in Kathmandu, Dehradun and Delhi with Hindustan Times.

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