HC Manipur directs state govt to submit recommendation for inclusion of Meitei/Meetei in ST list

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Representative Image: (Photo source/Ning Shirah)

Imphal: In a major turn of events, amid the ongoing demand and opposition to accord ST-status to the Meitei/Meetei community, the High Court of Manipur today issued a notification directing the Manipur government to submit a recommendation to the Tribal Affairs Ministry, the government of India, for the inclusion of the Meitei/Meetei community in the scheduled Tribe list of the Indian Constitution.

Acting Chief Justice of the High Court of Manipur, Justice M.V. Muralidharan, directed the same during the final disposal of a Civil Writ Petition filed by eight members of Meetei (Meitei) Tribe Union led by Union Secretary Mutum Churamani Meetei.

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The petitioners have filed the writ petition for issuance of a writ of mandamus directing the first respondent to submit a recommendation in reply to the Letter No.1902005/2012-C&IM dated 29.5.2013 of the Government of India, Ministry of Tribal Affairs within a period of two months or within a time frame and to include the Meetei/Meitei community in the Schedule Tribe list of the Indian Constitution as a “tribe among tribes of Manipur”, maintaining the tribal status of Meetei/Meitei existed before signing of the Merger Agreement of Manipur into the Indian Union to preserve the said community and save the ancestral land, tradition, culture and language and also direction on the fourth respondent to restore the Scheduled Tribe status of Meetei/Meitei community.

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By placing on record various documentary references which were annexed to the writ petition, the learned counsel for the petitioners, Ajoy Pebam, further submitted that during the preparation of the Scheduled Tribe lists of India under Article 342 of the Constitution of India, the Meetei/Meitei community was left out. But there is documentary evidence showing the earlier Meetei/Meitei community also belonged to the tribals community.

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The learned counsel further submitted that in reply to the representation submitted by the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India wrote a letter dated 29.5.2013 to the Government of Manipur requesting specific recommendation along with the latest socio-economic survey and ethnographic report. However, despite the letter, the Government of Manipur failed to submit the recommendation for the reason best known to them.

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The Court, after considering the letter from the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India, said it is clear that there appears that a recommendation from the State Government is pending for inclusion of the Meetei/Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribes list of the Constitution of India. Nothing has been produced by the respondents, particularly the respondent state to show that they have sent a reply to the letter from the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. Thus, the issue of inclusion of the Meetei/Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribes list of the Constitution has been pending for nearly ten years and above. The Court finally ordered the first respondent to consider the case of the petitioners for inclusion of the Meetei/Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribe list, expeditiously, preferably within a period of four weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of its order.

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It is worth mentioning that the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee of Manipur (STDCM) reiterating its demand of ST-Status for the Meitei-Meetei Community submitted a memorandum to the Outer Manipur Parliamentary Constituency MP (LS) Lorho S Pfoze, demanding the inclusion of Meitei/Meetei in the Scheduled Tribe list on Sunday, April 17. On the other hand, All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM) has reaffirmed their opposition to the demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status by the Meitei community in Manipur.

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