Tribes in News

Manipur Riots: CJI questions HC’s power over ST List


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Scheduled Tribes

Mains level: Manipur Riots

Central Idea

  • The Chief Justice of India has questioned why a 23-year-old Constitution Bench judgment was not shown to the Manipur High Court, which directed the state government to consider the inclusion of Meetei/Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribe list.
  • The Chief Justice observed that a High Court does not have the power to direct changes in the Scheduled Tribes List, as it is a Presidential power to designate a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe.

What is the Scheduled Tribes List?

  • Article 342(1) of the Constitution states that it is entirely the President’s power to designate a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe.
  • It is not open to State governments, courts, 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.
  • A notification issued under clause (1) of Article 342 can be amended only by law to be made by Parliament.

Notable Judgements:

(1) The State of Maharashtra vs. Milind verdict

  • The five-judge Constitution Bench in State of Maharashtra versus Milind, in November 2000, held that a notification issued under clause (1) of Article 342, specifying Scheduled Tribes, can be amended only by law to be made by Parliament.
  • Any tribe or tribal community or part of or group within any tribe can be included or excluded from the list of Scheduled Tribes only by Parliament by law and by no other authority.

(2) FCI vs. Jagdish Balaram Bahira

  • The settled law in the Milind verdict was referred to by a July 2017 judgment authored by Justice Chandrachud for a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court in CMD, FCI versus Jagdish Balaram Bahira to note that the Presidential Order under Article 342 regarding Scheduled Tribes was always “final”.

Back2Basics: Scheduled Tribes

  • The term ‘Scheduled Tribes’ first appeared in the Constitution of India.
  • Article 366 (25) defined scheduled tribes as “such tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to be Scheduled Tribes for the purposes of this constitution”.
  • Article 342 prescribes procedures to be followed in the matter of specification of scheduled tribes.
  • Among the tribal groups, several have adapted to modern life but there are tribal groups who are more vulnerable.
  • The Dhebar Commission (1973) created a separate category “Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs)” which was renamed in 2006 as “Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)”.

How are STs notified?

  • The first specification of Scheduled Tribes in relation to a particular State/ Union Territory is by a notified order of the President, after consultation with the State governments concerned.
  • These orders can be modified subsequently only through an Act of Parliament.

Status of STs in India

  • The Census 2011 has revealed that there are said to be 705 ethnic groups notified as Scheduled Tribes (STs).
  • Over 10 crore Indians are notified as STs, of which 1.04 crore live in urban areas.
  • The STs constitute 8.6% of the population and 11.3% of the rural population.


Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your personal mentor for UPSC 2024 | Schedule your FREE session and get the Prelims prep Toolkit!

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.

💥Mentorship New Batch Launch
💥Mentorship New Batch Launch