The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the office of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to disclose whether it intends to bring the “Lohar” community in the list of scheduled tribes. The case pertains to an RTI applicant who had approached the Tribal Affairs ministry for details of the Bihar government’s proposal to include the community in the state’s ST list. The ministry informed that the proposal is pending after which the applicant approached the CIC. During the hearing, the Commission was told that the proposal was referred to the Registrar of India (RGI) for comments and views on March 17 last year. The RGI did not support the proposal.
Meanwhile, the Bihar government issued a notification, dated August 23, 2016, that the ‘Lohar’ community will be issued ST certificates. However, the Supreme Court, in November 2006, held that the Centre cannot add or subtract from the list of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu noted in his order.
“As per the order of the Supreme Court and per the Constitutional scheme, it is the duty of the State of Bihar to take a stand, initiate the process and make formal recommendation on the issue as to whether the State of Bihar has any substantive role to play in inclusion of ‘Lohar’ Community in SC/ST list or not,” Acharyulu pointed out.
He said the Bihar government has to intimate whether the people belonging to the community of “Lohar” fall under the category of ST or not. “In this regard, the Commission directs the office of CMO, or office of the Chief Secretary, or the concerned Additional Secretary, who is being addressed by the respondent authorities in Government of Bihar, to inform their stand on whether they recommend “Lohar” community to be listed among STs…,” he said.