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Court hears Mukul status plea

- Division bench takes up PIL on ‘authenticity’ of ST certificate

Shillong, Aug. 30: Meghalaya High Court today heard a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the authenticity of chief minister Mukul Sangma’s Scheduled Tribe status.

At the hearing, a division bench of the court, comprising acting Chief Justice T.N.K. Singh and Justice S.R. Sen, directed the state government and the petitioner, Tennydard M. Marak, to produce the Reservation of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Act and Rules of Meghalaya and a brochure on Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) published and issued by the Centre on Friday.

Marak had filed the PIL (SH No. 5 of 2013) alleging that Sangma, who is the incumbent Congress legislator from Ampati in South West Garo Hills, had fraudulently obtained the ST certificate.

During the hearing, advocate-general K.S. Kynjing, appearing on behalf of the state, questioned the maintainability of the writ petition in the form of PIL.

Kynjing also contended that the affidavit filed by Marak in support of the writ petition was not on prescribed format.

The division bench, therefore, permitted the advocate-general to file a short affidavit as to the maintainability of the present writ petition in the form of PIL and questioning the form of the affidavit filed by the petitioner in support of the writ petition.

The respondents to the PIL include the state of Meghalaya, represented by the secretary to the department of welfare of ST and SC, secretary to the home department, South West Garo Hills deputy commissioner, West Garo Hills deputy commissioner, and the chief minister himself.

Marak had even sent a complaint to the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes demanding cancellation of the ST certificate, which was accorded to Sangma. He had also requested the Election Commission to take action against the chief minister.

Apart from Marak, the All North East Indigenous Garo Law Promoter Association, Williamnagar, East Garo Hills, had recently alleged that Sangma does not belong to the “Sangma” clan, and that he had used his surname only to obtain a ST certificate.

However, the Manda clan, to which Sangma belongs, had recently come out in defence of the Garo Hills leader following the allegations.

The Ma’mong Manda Mahari Ku’monggrikani (Central Malicia Clan Association), Tura, West Garo Hills had said the allegation raised was “baseless” and untrue, designed to malign the image of the chief minister.

The association also said it was aware of the “facts and origin” of Sangma relating to his parents, place of birth, education beginning from the lower primary school and his clan (mahari) since when he has written Manda Sangma.