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Manipur HC allows appeals against ST status for Meitei community

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In its order dated Thursday, October 19, the Manipur High Court has allowed tribal organizations in the northeastern state to file an appeal against the order, which was passed on March 27, directing the state government to send a recommendation on an ST status for the Meitei community in the state.

A division bench comprising Justice Ananthem Bimol and Justice Guneshwar Sharma, said, ‘The main grievances raised by the applicant is that they will be prejudicially affected if they are not given a chance to have a say or to raise objection in the matter of granting ST status to the Meitei community.’

The March 27 order was passed by the then acting Chief Justice, MV Muralidharan, on a petition filed by the members of the Meitei Tribes Union, directing the state government to act on the plea of the Meitei community, for them to be included in the ST list.

This order saw widespread objections from the Kuki Zo bodies, which was followed by a rally, organised by the All-Tribal Students Union (ATSUM) on May 3, 2023, during which violence broke at Torbung in the Churachandpur district, and became the starting point for the ethnic violence which has claimed at least 180 lives till now.

The court noted, ‘Taking into consideration the nature of arguments advanced by the learned counsel appearing for the parties which needs to be examined and decided on the basis of the materials available in the connected writ appeal and writ petition and taking into consideration the grievances raised by the applicants, we are inclined to grant leave sought by the applicants in the present application.’

Appearing for the tribal bodies, Advocate Collin Gonsalves, remarked, ‘if the Meitei community is wrongly granted an ST status, it will adversely affect the existing tribal ST in employment and education where reservation for STs exists, and that the Meitei community being dominant and advanced politically, economically and educationally will grab majority of the ST reserved seats.’

Appearing for the respondents, Senior Advocate, M Hemachandra, said, ‘In spite of having records of the Meitei community as “Meitei tribes”, they had been left out at the time of the preparation of the ST list under the Constitution of India, and the “Meitei tribes” have approached the authorities concerned for the last so many years, but failed to consider the initiation of the process for inclusion into the ST lists.’

Sonakshi Datta
Sonakshi Datta
Journalist who wants to cover the truth which others look the other way from.

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