Manipur High Court has directed the state government to submit recommendations for inclusion of Meitei/Meetei in the scheduled tribe list, and to consider the case within a period of four weeks.
The HC has directed the state government to submit recommendations regarding inclusion of Meetei/Meitei in ST list to the Union Tribal Affairs.
Eight petitioners filed the writ petition for issuance of a writ of mandamus directing the first respondent to submit recommendation in reply to the ministry of Tribal Affairs letter of May, 2013, within a period of two months or within a time frame and to include Meetei/Meitei community in the Schedule Tribe list of Indian Constitution as a “tribe among tribes of Manipur”, maintaining the tribal status of Meetei/Meitei existed before 21.9.1949 (before signing of the Merger Agreement) as part of the terms and conditions of the Merger Agreement of Manipur into the Indian Union and also direction on the ministry of tribal affairs to restore the Scheduled Tribe status of Meetei/Meitei community.
By placing on record various documentary references, which are annexed with the writ petition, the counsel further submitted that during the preparation of Scheduled Tribe lists of India under Article 342 of the Constitution of India, the Meetei/Meitei community are left out. But there is documentary evidence showing the earlier Meetei/Meitei community also belonged to the tribe community.
On April 18, 2022, the Meetei (Meitei) Tribe Union submitted a representation to the Union Minister of Tribal Affairs with a copy to 12 authorities, including the chief secretary, government of Manipur seeking inclusion of Meetei/Meitei Tribe of Manipur in the list of Scheduled Tribe under Indian Constitution.
On May 31, 2022, the Union Tribal Affairs Ministry forwarded the representation to the secretary, government of Manipur to submit recommendation. But the recommendation has not been submitted and the issue of inclusion of the Meetei/Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribes list of the Constitution has been pending for nearly ten years.
“No satisfactory explanation is forthcoming from the side of the respondent state for not submitting the recommendation for the last 10 years”, stated the HC adding that it would be appropriate to direct the respondent state to submit its recommendation to the Union Tribal Affairs Ministry within a reasonable time.
Notably, inclusion of the Meetei/Meitei community of Manipur in the ST list is one of the long-standing demands of several civil society organisations in the state.
However, many tribal based CSOs, particularly student bodies like ATSUM, ANSAM and KSO had raised strong objections to the demand of inclusion of Meitei/Meetei in ST list.
Reacting to the court order, All Tribal Student Union Manipur has decided to discuss the matter minutely as a legal process is involved in the issue.