Quotes Constitution (Nagaland) Scheduled Tribe Order, 1970
DIMAPUR, SEPTEMBER 29: The Kohima Bench of Guwahati High Court today said that neither the Government of Nagaland nor the High Court has any authority to add, modify or alter the list of Scheduled Tribes in the Constitution (Nagaland) Scheduled Tribe Order, 1970 as it is the Parliament only by law which may amend the Constitution (Nagaland) Scheduled Tribe Order, 1970 under Article 342 of the Constitution of India.
The Court gave the judgment while dismissing the writ petition filed by the Rongmei Council, Nagaland challenging the part of the Cabinet Decision 25.04.2017 and the State Government notification dated 26.04.2017 by which the recognition of Rongmei as one of the Naga tribes in the State of Nagaland vide notification dated 04.08.2012 was withdrawn.
“Any tribe or tribal community or part of or group within any tribe can be included or excluded from the list of Scheduled Tribes issued under Clause (1) of Article 342 of the Constitution of India by the Parliament by law only and by no other authority. It is not open to State Governments or courts or tribunals or any other authority to modify, amend or alter the list of Scheduled Tribes specified in the notification issued under Clause (1) of Article 342”, said Justice Kardak Ete in a judgment and order today.
The petitioner’s, the Rongmei Council, contention was that historically, the Rongmei tribe in the then nomenclature of Kabui was already found recognized in 1891 Assam population census. Henry Dament, Political Officer, Naga Hills, in an official report of 1878-79 mentioned the existence of 18 tribes, but the census of 1891 recognized the following 9 tribes namely Angami, Ao, Kabui, Kuchcha, Kezhemer, Lotha, Rengma and Sema. Therefore, it is the case of the petitioner that in fact the Rongmei does not need recognition which was already recognized when Naga Hills district was under the administrative control of Assam.
According to Court document, vide notification dated 04.08.2012, the Government of Nagaland recognized Rongmei community residing in the State of Nagaland as one of the Naga tribes. Considering the fact that Rongmei tribe is also one of the indigenous tribes of neighbouring Manipur and Assam States, Schedule Tribe certificate and Indigenous Tribe Certificate would be issued to only those members of the Rongmei tribe who or whose ancestors were enumerated in the 1963 Electoral Roll of the State and whose names were enumerated in the report dated 31.05.2012 of the Committee set up by the State Government to examine the issues of granting the status of indigenous Naga tribe to the members of the Rongmei community.
Thereafter, again the State Cabinet vide O.M. dated 27.09.2016 constituted a 9-member Cabinet Sub-Committee to examine the issue of status of indigenous Naga tribe for members of Rongmei community. The Cabinet discussed the matter on 25.04.2017 with regard to the implementation of the earlier Cabinet decision dated 23.07.2012 regarding recognition of the Rongmei tribe by the Government of Nagaland. The Cabinet decided to modify its earlier decision dated 23.07.2012 as under: (i) Recognition of Rongmei tribe as one of the indigenous Naga tribes of Nagaland as notified by the Government vide Notification No. HOME/SCTA-6/2007 (Pt-1)/34 dated 4th August, 2012, may be withdrawn with immediate effect. (ii) The 1313 people belonging to the Rongmei tribe, already identified by the Government of Nagaland through special enumeration process as having permanently settled in the present territory of Nagaland prior to 01-12-1963, along with their legitimate descendants, may continue to enjoy the status, privileges and entitlements of indigenous inhabitants of Nagaland, similar to the ones being enjoyed by members of other indigenous inhabitants, who had permanently settled in the present territory of Nagaland prior to 01-12-1963 as notified by the State Government vide notification No. APPT-16/6/67 dated 06-07-1973 and No. AR-8/8/76 dated 28-04-1977. Counsel for the petitioner K Alin Rongmei submitted that the Cabinet meeting held on 24.07.2012 and consequential order passed on 04.08.2012 were taken openly after a long process of discussions, negotiations and consideration of objections and as such, the notification dated 26.04.2017 by which the recognition of Rongmei tribe as one of the indigenous Naga tribes of Nagaland was withdrawn as notified is illegal, arbitrary and cannot stand the scrutiny of law.
Counsel for the respondent, LT Sangtam, Additional AG, submitted that in view of the strong objections raised by various indigenous/recognized Naga tribes of Nagaland and the overall interest of the State, the Government took the subsequent policy decision to withdraw recognition of Rongmei tribe as one of the indigenous Naga tribes of Nagaland and to grant indigenous inhabitants only to 1313 persons belonging to the Rongmei community.
“The actions of the Government in issuing the Notification dated 26-04-2017 superseding the Notification dated 04-08-2012 was done in public interest and for a legitimate purpose i.e., to protect the interest of the recognized Naga tribes of Nagaland”, he submitted.
In his judgment and order, Justice Kardak Ete observed that the petitioner community/the Rongmei community has not been included in the Constitution (Nagaland) Scheduled Tribe Order, 1970. It clearly provides that the tribes deemed to be Scheduled Tribes in relation to the State of Nagaland so far as regards members thereof resident of the State are 1) Naga 2) Kuki 3) Kachari 4) Mikir and 5) Garo. It does not include the Rongmei tribe in the Constitutional Order.
“Therefore, the Rongmei tribe is not a recognised Schedule Tribe in the State of Nagaland in the Constitutional Order of 1970. In fact the petitioner community is recognised Schedule Tribe of State of Manipur vide Presidential Order, 2011 for the State of Manipur”, the judgment said, while dismissing the writ petition.
(Page News Service)