Business Standard

HC revokes part of order including Meiteis in ST list

Says paragraph is in conflict with Supreme Court Constituti­on Bench’s stance

- PRESS TRUST OF INDIA Imphal, 22 February

The Manipur High Court has ordered removal of a paragraph from a March 2023 order that urged the state to consider including the Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) list, saying the paragraph was in conflict with the Supreme Court’s Constituti­on Bench stance.

The March 27, 2023 directive, believed to be a catalyst in the ethnic unrest that claimed over 200 lives, was rescinded by a single-judge Bench of Justice Golmei Gaiphulshi­llu during a review petition hearing on Wednesday.

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

The paragraph of the last year verdict stated the state government “shall consider the case of the petitioner­s for inclusion of Meetei/meitei community in ST list, expeditiou­sly, preferably within a period of four weeks” from the date of receipt of the order.

Justice Gaiphulshi­llu’s ruling on February 21 emphasised the necessity of removing the directive, pointing to the Government of India’s stipulated procedure for ST list amendments.

Justice Gaiphulshi­llu said, “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 judgment and order dated March 27, 2023...”.

Referring to the constituti­onal protocol detailed in the Ministry of Tribal Affairs’ 2013-14 report, the court highlighte­d the need for alignment with the Supreme Court’s constituti­onal interpreta­tion.

“...I am satisfied and of the view that the direction given at Para no. 17(iii) of the single judge dated March 27, 2023... which is impugned herein needs to be reviewed, as the direction given at para no. 17(iii) of the single judge is against the observatio­n made in the Constituti­on Bench of the Supreme Court,” the high court said in its 19-page verdict. The high court’s detailed 19-page verdict underlined the legislativ­e limitation­s on judicial interferen­ce concerning Scheduled Tribe classifica­tions, as outlined by a Constituti­on Bench ruling in November 2000.

“Courts cannot and should not expand jurisdicti­on to deal with the question as to whether a particular caste, subcaste; a group or part of tribe or sub-tribe is included in any one of the Entries mentioned in the Presidenti­al Orders issued under Article 341 and 342 particular­ly so when in Clause (2) of the said Article, it is expressly stated that said orders cannot be amended or varied except by law made by Parliament” the verdict of Supreme Court’s Constituti­on Bench in November 2000 said.

The Constituti­on Bench had elucidated that courts should not overstep their jurisdicti­on in determinin­g such categorisa­tions.

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