The Supreme Court Tuesday directed the Election Commission to consider a plea for reservation for the Scheduled Tribes in Uttar Pradesh assembly on the basis of the modified census data.
The supreme court bench of Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice J. Chelameswar asked the commission to either take figures of the Scheduled Tribes’ (STs) population in the state from petitioner Virendra Pratap or from the registrar general of census operation.
Pratap sought direction for the reservation of ST constituencies in the coming elections to the assembly. At present, there is no reservation for the STs in the house.
The court also noted the submission by the Election Commission that it would take three-four months to complete the exercise of going through the census data and evaluating the number of seats that needed to be reserved in proportion to the latest Scheduled Tribes’ population in the state.
Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati said the figures available with the registrar general could be released to the poll panel.
The Election Commission told the court that despite the presidential order of 2003, there was no statutory legislation or direction asking it to move further for providing proportional representation to the STs.
This was the reason why it had not acted on the matter so far, it said.
The apex court’s order came on a petition seeking representation of the STs in the assembly in proportion to their population which registered a six-fold increase after 10 tribes were added to the list.
Prior to their inclusion as Scheduled Tribes, the 10 tribes were deemed to be Scheduled Castes. The ST list was expanded by parliament after amending the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) (Uttar Pradesh) Order, 1967.
Initially, there were five Scheduled Tribes in Uttar Pradesh. Their population was 107, 963 before the expansion of the ST list. Their numbers went up to 665,325 after the list was expanded, the petition said.
Most of these tribes were concentrated in Maharajganj, Siddharth Nagar, Basti, Gorakhpur, Deoria, Mau, Azamgarh, Jaunpur, Balia, Ghazipur, Varanasi, Sonbhadra and Lalitpur districts of the state, it said.