Amid the turmoil in Manipur, Dinganlung Gangmei, chairman, Hill Areas Committee of Manipur Legislative Assembly, moved the Supreme Court on Saturday, challenging the March 27 order of the Manipur High Court asking the state government to submit recommendation for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to the Meetei/Meitei community.
In his plea, Gangmei contended that the Meetei/Meitei community is not a tribe and has never been recognised as such. He said they are “advanced”, though some of them may come within the Scheduled Caste (SC) or Other Backward Classes (OBC) category.
According to the petition, there is no recommendation of the state government pending before the Central Government for the inclusion of the Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribe list.
The petition argues that directing the state government to recommend a tribe for inclusion in the Scheduled Tribe List falls solely within the jurisdiction of the state, and not the High Court.
The petition filed by Gangmei, argues that the impugned order has resulted in the unrest in Manipur that has caused the death of 19 people.
"Due to the impugned order tension between both the community have taken place and violent clashes have erupted across the state. As a result of it, so far 19 tribal people have been killed, various places in the states are blocked, internet is completely shut down and more people are at risk of losing their lives," the petition stated.
The petition argues that the High Court has made three errors in its decision. First is directing the state to make a recommendation to the Central government to include the Meitei Community as a Scheduled Tribe in the Presidential list. Second is the issue of inclusion of the Meeteis/Meiteis was pending for nearly 10 years. The third mistake is the Meitei/Meetei are tribes.
"Merely because the state of Manipur may have received some representation by the Meetei. Meiteis does not oblige the state to do anything unless the state is convinced first, that the Meeteis/Meiteis are tribes and second, that they deserve to be in the Scheduled Tribes list," the petition added.
The state is not bound to act unless it is satisfied that people from the Meetei/Meitei community are tribes and satisfy the constitutional requirements of being included in the ST list.
The petition stated that the High Court could not have given any direction to the state government even if it had considered the material and come to the conclusion that Meetei/Meitei people are tribes and satisfy the constitutional requirement for inclusion in the ST list.