Explained | The process of inclusion or exclusion from the Scheduled Tribes list

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained | The process of inclusion or exclusion from the Scheduled Tribes list” published in The Hindu on 19th September 2022.

What is the News?

Union Cabinet has approved a proposal to add several tribes to the list of Scheduled Tribes(ST) in States such as Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh so that they can avail of benefits meant for STs including reservation. 

Which communities have been added to the ST list?

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How many Scheduled Tribes are there officially?

According to the Scheduled Tribes in India, as revealed in Census 2011, there are said to be 705 ethnic groups listed as Scheduled Tribes under Article 342. 

Over 10 crore Indians are notified as STs, of which 1.04 crore live in urban areas. The STs constitute 8.6% of the population and 11.3% of the rural population.

How is a community added or removed from SC, ST lists?

The process begins at the level of a State or Union Territory with the concerned government or administration seeking the addition or exclusion of a particular community from the SC or ST list. 

The final decision rests with the President’s office issuing a notification specifying the changes under powers vested in it from Articles 341 and 342. 

The inclusion or exclusion of any community in the Scheduled Tribes or Scheduled Castes list comes into effect only after the President assents to a Bill that amends the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 and the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order,1950 as is appropriate after it is passed by both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

What are the criteria to be added to an SC/ST list?

To establish whether a community is a Scheduled Tribe, the government looks at several criteria, including its ethnological traits, traditional characteristics, distinctive culture, geographical isolation and backwardness. 

However, the Supreme Court has recently said that it wanted to fix fool-proof parameters to determine if a person belongs to a Scheduled Tribe and is entitled to the benefits due to the community.

The Supreme Court has now referred the question of fixing the parameters to a larger Bench, pointing out that the issue was a “matter of importance” when it came to issuing caste certificates.

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