The Supreme Court today sought the Centre's reply on a plea for proportional representation of the Scheduled Tribes (ST) in the Lok Sabha and legislative assemblies of West Bengal and Sikkim.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also issued notices to the Election Commission of India (ECI), West Bengal and Sikkim on the plea filed by an organisation, Public Interest Committee For Scheduling Specific Areas (PICSSA).
The plea, filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan, has alleged that despite the constitutional and statutory requirements, the Centre, ECI and these state governments have failed to carry out their constitutional obligations to ensure proportional representation to the Scheduled Tribes.
"Issue an order or direction to the Centre and the states to provide for the proportional representation of Scheduled Tribes (STs) in the House of People (Lok Sabha) and the legislative assemblies of states of West Bengal and Sikkim as per the mandate of Article 330 and 332 of the Constitution of India," the plea said.
Article 330 and 332 of the Constitution deals with reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies respectively.
"Limbu and Tamang have been inserted as Scheduled Tribes for the state of West Bengal and for Sikkim in the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Amendment) Act, 2002," the plea said.
As per Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Orders (Amendment) Act, 2002, several tribes, communities, parts, groups have been included in the lists of Scheduled Tribes.
The petition said that a 2012 apex court order, directing the EC to consider the case of the Scheduled Tribes which had been included in the list of Scheduled Tribes and to take appropriate steps for their representation in the Lok Sabha as well as in the state legislative assembly, was not implemented.
"Moreover the state assembly elections in 2016 had no reserved ST seats," it said.
The petition also claimed that seats for STs and Scheduled Castes were not adjusted as per the delimitation Act.
"Section 8(2) and Section 9 of the Delimitation Act, 2002 also casts an obligation on the Delimitation Commission to readjust and distribute the number of seats on the basis of census figures as ascertained at the census held in the year 2001 the number of seats, if any, to be reserved for the Scheduled Castes and for the Scheduled Tribes of the State.
"Despite these constitutional and statutory requirements, respondents have failed to carry out their constitutional obligations to ensure proportional representation to the Scheduled Tribes under the aforesaid provisions of the Constitution," the plea added.
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