Shillong: The Supreme Court Monday directed the National Commission on Scheduled Tribes to decide the tribal status of Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma within eight weeks.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice MY Eqbal directed the Commission to give its verdict within the stipulated time.
"The Supreme court disposed of two petitions challenging the tribal status of the chief minister," Supreme Court advocate Ranjan Mukherjee said on phone from New Delhi.
Moreover, Mukherjee said the court did not give any opinion on the two petitions, but left the matter to the Commission to take a decision on the representation of the petitioner`s within eight weeks from Monday.
The two petitions include a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Tennydard. N. Marak, rejected last year by the Meghalaya High Court, and a writ petition filed by the All North East Indigenous Garo Law Promoters Association.
Marak filed the PIL alleging that Sangma had fraudulently obtained the Scheduled Tribe certificate by "misrepresentation and suppressing the material facts".
The All North East Indigenous Garo Law Promoter Association had alleged that Sangma does not belong to the Sangma clan and that he used his surname only to obtain a Scheduled Tribe certificate.
On Oct 7, the Meghalaya High Court dismissed as "non-maintainable" a PIL challenging the scheduled tribe status of Manda Sangma.
In the past, certain groups and individuals had raised the issue because the chief minister`s late mother Roshanara Begum was a non-Garo.
The Manda clan, to which Sangma belongs, has come out in Sangma`s defence.