Tribal panel asked to ascertain Mukul Sangma’s status

New Delhi, Jan 20: The Supreme Court Monday asked the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes to verify the veracity of the schedule tribe status of Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma which has been contested by an NGO in the northeastern state.

As NGO All North East Indigenous Garo Law Promoters Association and another petitioner challenged the tribal status of Sangma on the grounds of his non-tribal mother, a bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivasm, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice M.Y.Eqbal asked the tribal panel to look into the authenticity of the allegation.

Giving the NCST eight weeks time, the court said that it was not expressing any opinion on the merits of the matter. The PIL petition by the NGO has sought the cancellation of Sangma’s tribal certificate.

In its PIL, the NGO contended that the Garo tribe of Meghalaya is a matriarchal society where mother presides over the family and the family inherits her surname.

It was contended by the petitioner that Sangma’s biological mother was a Muslim, and going by Garo customs and traditions, adoption could not be a basis of getting tribal status.

The NGO moved the apex court after its similar plea was rejected by the Meghalaya High Court, which declined to entertain it.

Sangma, who is in his second term as chief minister, is a five-time legislator who won from Ampatigiri assembly constituency in South West Garo Hills in 1993, 1998, 2003, 2008 and 2013.