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How Manipur HC got it all terribly wrong

The Manipur video of women under assault made everyone sit up. In the deteriorating law and order situation, there is merit in examining the legal prudence of the Manipur high court ruling on Meitei tribal status. The word tribe has sociological connotations whereas the term ‘scheduled tribe’ has the constitutional weight of Article 342. It’s also worthwhile to look at the historical background of the scheduled tribe classification.

The Manipur chief justice directed the Manipur government on March 27 to “consider inclusion of the Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribe list, expeditiously, preferably within a period of four weeks” from the date of the order. He completely overlooked the fact that recognition or de-recognition of communities in the scheduled tribe or caste category is fraught with sensitivities.

Making of an ST
The process of inclusion of a social grouping as a scheduled tribe is an administratively detailed one and has evolved over the years. As correctly noted by the Supreme Court, courts are not constitutionally empowered to adjudicate on this matter, at least until due process has been completed. Here, what were the procedural modalities overlooked?

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Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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