Context: A proposal on the inclusion of the Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribes list has been examined and rejected twice over the last four decades as accessed by The Hindu under the Right to Information Act, 2005.
The Process of Inclusion or Exclusion From the Scheduled Tribes or Schedule Castes list
|1||Initiation at the State or Union Territory Level||It begins with a State or Union Territory government or administration expressing the desire to include or exclude a particular community from the SC or ST list.|
|2||State Government Recommendation||State governments can recommend specific communities for addition or subtraction from the SC or ST lists based on their discretion. These recommendations may be informed by studies or research, as seen in the case of the Hatti community in Himachal Pradesh.|
|3||Proposal Submission to Union Ministry||The State government sends its proposal to the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs, which proceeds with its own internal deliberations.|
|4||Examination by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs||The Ministry of Tribal Affairs examines the proposal and, upon approval, forwards it to the Registrar General of India (RGI).|
|5||RGI Approval||Once the RGI approves the proposal, it is then submitted to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes or National Commission for Scheduled Tribes for further consideration.|
|6||Union Government Approval||Following the review by the respective National Commissions, the proposal is returned to the Union government. It undergoes inter-ministerial deliberations and is sent to the Cabinet for final approval.|
|7||Legislative Amendment||The inclusion or exclusion of any community in the SC or ST lists only takes effect when a Bill amending the Constitution (SC) Order of 1950 and the Constitution (ST) Order of 1950 is passed by the Parliament.|
These orders initially provided the complete list of SCs and STs after India’s independence through a presidential order, and any alterations to this list must be passed by Parliament by law.
|8||Presidential Notification||The final decision lies with the President’s office, which issues a notification detailing the changes. The President exercises these powers under Articles 341 and 342 of the Indian Constitution.|
Meitei Community of Manipur
- The Meitei community of Manipur is the dominant community in the state and is mostly located in the city of Imphal.
- The community consists of Hindus, and forms more than 50% of the entire population of Manipur, according to the 2011 census data of India.
- 8% of the Meiteis are Muslims called Meitei Pangals.
- The Meities are mostly settled in the plains of Manipur but certain sections can also be found in the hills.
- The Meitei community is fighting for the right to be included in the ST list in Manipur, which has caused a rift between them and the Naga and Kuki communities.
Naga and Kuki Scheduled Tribal Community of Manipur
- The Naga and Kuki tribes make up about 40 percent of the population of Manipur, and fall into the ‘Scheduled Tribes’ category.
- They enjoy certain benefits such as land-owning rights in the hills and forests, and the make-up of the majority of the people living in the hills.
Constitutional Provisions with Respect to Schedule Castes and Scheduled Tribes341.
Scheduled Castes.—(1) The President may with respect to any State or Union territory, and where it is a State, after consultation with the Governor thereof, by public notification, specify the castes, races or tribes or parts of or groups within castes, races or tribes which shall for the purposes of this Constitution be deemed to be Scheduled Castes in relation to that State or Union territory, as the case may be.
(2) Parliament may by law include in or exclude from the list of Scheduled Castes specified in a notification issued under clause (1) any caste, race or tribe or part of or group within any caste, race or tribe, but save as aforesaid a notification issued under the said clause shall not be varied by any subsequent notification.
342. Scheduled Tribes.— (1) The President may with respect to any State or Union territory, and where it is a State, after consultation with the Governor thereof, by public notification, specify the tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within tribes or tribal communities which shall for the purposes of this Constitution be deemed to be Scheduled Tribes in relation to that State or Union territory, as the case may be.
(2) Parliament may by law include in or exclude from the list of Scheduled Tribes specified in a notification issued under clause (1) any tribe or tribal community or part of or group within any tribe or tribal community, but save as aforesaid a notification issued under the said clause shall not be varied by any subsequent notification.