As the tribal solidarity march against the Meetei's ST demand was carried out in all hill districts of Manipur on Wednesday, the Manipur High Court issued notices to the Hill Areas Committee (Manipur Legislative Assembly) chairman and the All Tribal Students Union Manipur president for appearance in the High Court “for instigating innocent hill people against the court judgment.”
The Manipur High Court notified both to appear with show cause as to why they should not be punished for criticizing the high court judgment. The high court further directed the DGP Manipur to ensure their "personal appearances".
The court further suggested the media to appeal to the organizations, civil societies, civil bodies and the general people not to carry out activities which may lower the Manipur High Court dignity.
The HC had earlier directed to submit the recommendation of inclusion of Meitei (Meetei) community to ST list to the Union Tribal Affairs Ministry , Government of India by May 29.
Meanwhile, Hill Areas Committee chairman Dinganglung Gangmei reportedly circulated a statement against the HC judgment.
The statement mentioned that "the Hill Areas Committee, Manipur Legislative Assembly is perturbed/aggrieved by the Order of Hon’ble Court of Manipur dated 19/04/2023 in Writ Petition No 229 of 2023 directing the Government of Manipur to recommend for inclusion of Meitei (Meetei) community in the Scheduled Tribe list of the Constitution of India inspite of strong opposition from the Scheduled Tribes of Manipur.
In the matter, the HAC as a Constitutional Body of the Hill Areas of Manipur was neither made party to the case nor consulted, it stated, adding the HAC also has given any recommendation or consent.
It mentioned that the Meitei (Meetei) community of Manipur are already protected under the Constitution of India and categorized as (i) General (ii) Other Backward Classes (OBC) and (iii) Scheduled Cast (SC). The committee unanimously resolved to urge the Government of Manipur and the Government of India to go for appeals against the aforementioned Order of the High Court of Manipur, taking into account the sentiments and interests/rights of the Scheduled Tribe of Manipur, it added.
ATSUM president also circulated a statement against the HC judgment.
Meanwhile, the High Court heard the argument from counsels and stated that the resolution of HAC and press statement issued by ATSUM amounts to criticising the judgment and order passed by the High Court. Therefore, the HC inclined to call them before the High Court and seek the explanation as to why action should not be taken under the Contempt of Court against them, it stated.
It may be noted that senior counsel further argued that the tribal people of the state will not take with judgment and order lying down, thereby directly threatening the authority of the Manipur High Court.
Therefore, it was observed that the Act of the chairman and president amounts to contempt, and they should be punished under the Contempt of Court Act, 1971 read with Article 215 of the Constitution of India.