'Factually wrong': SC criticises Manipur HC order directing state to consider ST status for Meiteistext_fields
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday made a strong observation against Manipur High Court for its judgement in March this year, directing the state government to consider the inclusion of the Meitei community in the state’s Scheduled Tribe list.
The apex court made the critical remark against the High Court’s acting Chief Justice M.V. Muralidaran, saying that he did not correct his judgment granting quota to the majority Meiteis in Manipur, despite being given an opportunity.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud said: "I think we have to stay the order of the high court... we gave Justice Muralidaran time to correct himself and he has not done so."
The bench, also comprising Justices P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala, called the judgement “factually wrong” observing that the direction was against the principles laid down by previous judgments of constitutional benches of the apex court, dealing with the classification of communities as Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes.
The apex court did not stay the high court order after it was informed that an appeal against it is pending before a division bench of the high court.
It also urged constitutional authorities such as the Chief Minister to act with restraint and not make statements that could aggravate the situation.
The apex court made this observation after learning that an application was filed by the Manipur government before a bench of Acting Chief Justice Muralidaran, and the bench had extended the deadline for the state to abide by its 27 March directive on granting ST status to Meitei.
The tribals are opposing reservation to the Meiteis following the March 27 Manipur High Court order, asking the state government to send a recommendation to the Centre within four weeks on the demand for ST status to the community.
The top court said: "We gave time to Justice Muralidaran to remedy his error and he did not. We have to take a strong view against it now. It is clear if high court judges do not follow constitutional bench judgments, then what should we do..."
The bench said the tribals including Kukis can join the proceedings before the division bench of the high court.
Violence erupted between the state’s ethnic Kuki tribals and non-tribal Meitei community earlier this month, following the Tribal Solidarity March held to protest plans to give Scheduled Tribe status to non-tribal Meiteis.
The SC bench on Wednesday was hearing a batch of petitions that were filed seeking its intervention to provide security to the conflict-ridden areas in Manipur.