DB directs Govt to file response in petition filed against grant of ST Status to Paharis, others

STATE TIMES NEWS

JAMMU: The Division Bench of the Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court comprising Justice Tashi Rabstan and Justice Puneet Gupta directed the government to file a response to a petition challenging the inclusion of “Pahari Ethnic Group,” “Paddari Tribe,” “Koli,” and “Gadda Brahmin in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) list of Jammu and Kashmir .
The petition, filed by members of the Gujjar and Bakarewal communities, contests the Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Act, 2024 (Act No. 3 of 2024), alleging it to be unconstitutional and arbitrary.
In Writ Petition, the Division Bench comprising Justice Tashi Rabstan and Justice Puneet Gupta ordered that if the government fails to file its response by the next hearing on August 12, 2024, the application for interim relief will be considered. The petition challenges the inclusion of the “Pahari Ethnic Group,” “Paddari Tribe,” “Koli,” and “Gadda Brahmin” in the ST list of Jammu and Kashmir, citing lack of tribal characteristics, nomadic lifestyle, social or educational backwardness, or economic disadvantages traditionally associated with Scheduled Tribes.
Senior Advocate P N Raina assisted by Advocates J A Hamal, and Ankit Dogra appeared for the petitioners, while Vishal Sharma DSGI represented the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs, and Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India of India, and KDS Kotwal, Deputy Advocate General, along with Amit Gupta, represented the Government of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Petitioners Mohd Anwar Choudhary S/o Sahib Din R/o Raikaban A/P Gujjar Nagar , Jammu and others have filed the instant petition seeking a declaration that The Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Act, 2024 (Act No. 3 of 2024) (“Amendment Act”) is unconstitutional, void, and inoperative as it is manifestly arbitrary and violative Article 14,15,16,21 and 342 of the Constitution of India. Via the Amendment Act Parliament has included communities of ” Pahari Ethnic Group” , “Paddari Tribe” , “Koli” and “Gadda Brahmin” in the list of Schedule Tribes in respect of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, without any reasonable justification or empirical data.
The petitioners challenged the impugned order No :03 of 2024 dated 12th February 2024. Senior Advocate P N Raina J A Hamal Advocate &. Ankit Dogra, Advcoate appeared for petitioner while Vishal Sharma, DSGI for Union Ministry of Home Affairs, Union Ministery of Tribal Affairs and Registrar General of India and KDS Kotwal, Dy. AG vice , Amit Gupta, AAG for Government of Jammu and Kashmir.
The petition urged that “Pahari Ethnic Group”,”Paddari Tribe” , “Koli” and “Gadda Brahmin” who have been included in the list of ST of Jammu and Kashmir even though they are neither have tribal characteristic , nor nomadic nor do they face any social backwardness, caste stigma nor are they educationally and economically backward. Such inclusion in ST list of J& K if not set aside will set a wrong precedent and open the floodgates for inclusion of various linguistic communities / geographical locations. in the country on linguistic basis.
The petition also challenged the SO 176 issued by the Department of Social Welfare Government of Jammu and Kashmir, whereby a criteria was chalked out for issuance of ST Certificate on the basis of language, self- declaration, area, and certification by Namardars and Chowkidars, directly contravenes the esteemed Supreme Court directions with regard Scheduled Tribe Certificates . The petition further challenged that newly added ST communities have been granted 10% Reservation while they merely constitute 8.2% (As per 2011 Census).
Meanwhile Court allowed two CM No.2948/2024 is an application seeking impalement of Shahid Ashraf S/O Abdul Aziz R/O Kandi Tehsil Kotranka District Rajouri and J&K Pahari Cultural Development Society through its Secretary, Amir Shazad and impleaded both as party respondent in the writ petition in view of no objection from the petitioner side.

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