Manipur HC reverses decision on Meitei tribe inclusion in ST list

The Manipur High Court has revisited its contentious ruling from March 27, 2023, which had instructed the state government to expedite the consideration of adding the Meitei community to the Scheduled Tribes list, a move that sparked significant ethnic unrest in the northeastern state. Today’s detailed order, however, omits the directive for swift action, a decision that had inflamed tensions particularly within the Kuki community.

The ruling, which cited a previous Supreme Court constitution bench decision outlining the protocol for inclusion and exclusion in the Scheduled Tribes list, emphasized that such decisions fall squarely within the purview of the Central government, with courts playing no role. The apex court had further underscored that judicial bodies cannot tamper with or amend the Scheduled Tribes list.

Justice Golmei Gaiphulshillu’s bench noted that the previous judgment had been made under a “misconception of law,” attributing this misunderstanding to the inadequacy of the petitioners in providing comprehensive assistance during the initial hearing, both in terms of factual and legal arguments.

This development comes on the heels of the Manipur High Court’s decision last October to permit tribal organizations in the state to contest the March 27 order. Subsequently, the All Manipur Tribal Union lodged an appeal.

Moreover, on January 20 of this year, the High Court entertained a review petition seeking alterations to its previous ruling, prompting notices to be issued to both the Centre and the state government, soliciting their respective responses.

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