Court dismisses PIL challenging Meghalaya CM's tribal status

Last Updated: Mon, Oct 07, 2013 14:20 hrs

Shillong, Oct 7 (IANS) The Meghalaya High Court Monday dismissed as "non-maintainable" a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the scheduled tribe status of Chief Minister Mukul Manda Sangma.

Dismissing the petition filed by Tennydard M. Marak, a division bench of Justice T.N.K. Singh and Justice S.R. Sen said: "The petitioner has no locus standi to file the present PIL, and/or is not an aggrieved person in the given case to file the PIL, and the relief(s) sought for in the present PIL cannot be granted in the writ proceeding."

"The high court, in the given case, is not the proper authority for holding enquiry as to whether the Scheduled Tribe certificate issued in favour of the respondent No.5 (Sangma) is correct or not and also the PIL cannot be filed for making roving enquiry. Accordingly, the present PIL is not maintainable and is dismissed."

The court, in its 75-page judgment, that only a person having sufficient interest in the proceeding of PIL will alone have locus standi to approach the court for the poor and needy, suffering from violation of the fundamental rights.

"But a person for personal gain or private profit or political motive or any oblique consideration has no locus standi," it said.

The court said Marak "cannot be an aggrieved party or person having the locus standi for filing the present PIL" as he was never a candidate for the election to the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly from Ampatigiri (reserved for scheduled tribes) constituency.

Sangma had won the 2013 Assembly elections from Ampatigiri in southwest Garo Hills with a thumping majority. He had also emerged victorious from the same constituency in the 1993, 1998, 2003 and 2008 elections.

Marak had filed the PIL alleging that Sangma had fraudulently obtained the Scheduled Tribe certificate by "misrepresentation and suppressing the material facts".

Reacting to the high court's order, Marak said he would soon move the Supreme Court to challenge the order.

Earlier, Marak had sent a complaint to the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes demanding cancellation of the Scheduled Tribe certificate accorded to Sangma. He had also asked the Election Commission to take action against the chief minister.

The All North East Indigenous Garo Law Promoter Association had also recently alleged that Sangma does not belong to the Sangma clan, and that he had used his surname only to obtain a Scheduled Tribe certificate.

In the past, certain groups and individuals had raised the issue because of the fact that the chief minister's late mother Roshanara Begum was a non-Garo.

His family, however, had accused his rivals of political vendetta through personal attacks, saying she was a part and parcel of Garo society, having embraced its customary laws and traditions after her marriage.

Known for her social work, Roshanara was posthumously accorded international recognition by the Bangladesh government for her humanitarian work during the 1971 Liberation War, which forced thousands of people of then East Pakistan to flee across the border into Garo Hills to escape atrocities by Pakistani troops.

Moreover, the Manda clan, which Sangma belongs to, had recently come out in Sangma's defence.

The Mamong Manda Mahari Kumonggrikani had said that the allegation raised was baseless, untrue, and designed to malign the chief minister's image.

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