The Supreme Court today ruled that the Gond-Govri community is not a Scheduled Tribe (ST) and won’t be entitled to benefits extended to this category. However, the court also said that those from the group admitted to educational institutions and who have secured government jobs through the ST status till now cannot be disturbed, although they cannot claim any future benefits.
“Those who had taken the benefit of ST status after HC verdict till today will not be affected,” a three-judge bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy, and MR Shah ruled today.
In delisting Gond-Govri, the Supreme Court cancelled a Bombay High Court verdict from 2018 that had included the Maharashtra community in the list in the first place. The Maharashtra government had appealed against that verdict.
The Gond-Govri had been seeking inclusion in the ST category for long. A stampede during the community’s protest over the issue near the Maharashtra legislature complex in Nagpur in 1994 had claimed over 100 lives, according to a PTI report.
The Maharashtra government had, however, classified them as “Special Backward Class”. The community’s counsel had argued against this classification in the High Court, saying they was merely Govri and not “Gond-Govri”, a sub-group of the Gond tribe of central India.
The High Court upheld this stand saying that post-independence, there had been no such sub-tribe as “Gond-Govri”.
The Supreme Court today ruled that the High Court should not have gone into such classification. Interestingly, it also said that the Maharashtra government had filed the appeal against the High Court verdict very late.