LE Correspondent

New Delhi, April 2, 2022: A Division Bench of the Supreme Court has referred for consideration by a Full Bench the question of the parameters to be taken into consideration by the Scrutiny Committee to verify caste certificate. 

“Let these matters be placed before the Hon’ble The Chief Justice of India for consideration of the matter by the Three Judge Bench. The issue arises in many cases in the State of Maharashtra and in view of the fact, the special leave petitions were filed in the year 2009, we request the constitution of the larger Bench at an early date,” said a bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramanian in an order dated March 24, 2022. 

The subject matter of consideration before the bench was the correctness of the judgment of a Full Bench of the Bombay High Court in Writ Petition Shilpa Vishnu Thakur Vs. State of Maharashtra & Ors. which held that the affinity test is an integral part of the determination of the correctness of the claim of the caste certificate. It further held that in order to determine whether a person genuinely belongs to a designated Scheduled Tribe, the Scrutiny Committee must have regard to the entire evidence including on the question as to whether the applicant has satisfied the affinity test. 

“The Full Bench of Bombay High Court has interpreted the Maharashtra Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes, De-notified Tribes (Vimukta Jatis), Nomadic Tribes, Other Backward Classes and Special Backward Category (Regulation of Issuance and Verification of) Caste Certificate Act, 2000 (for short, ‘the Act’) and the set of the Rules framed under the aforesaid Act,” the Top Court observed.

The said judgment was referred to by the Top Court in a judgment reported as (2010) 14 SCC 489 ‘Vijakumar Vs. State of Maharahtra & Ors.’ wherein, a certificate issued to the uncle of the appellant was found to be of no use as such certificate is not found to be validated by the Scrutiny Committee. However, in another judgment reported as Anand Vs. Committee for Scrutiny and Verification of Tribe Claims & Ors., the said earlier judgment nor the judgment of the Full Bench of High Court was referred to. In the latter case, the Apex Court delineated the parameters which have to be kept in view while deciding the genuineness of the caste certificate.

“The question as to whether what should be the parameters available to the Scrutiny Committee for verification of caste certificate is matter of importance arising out of interpretation of the (Caste Certificate) Act and the Rule framed therein,” the bench said.

It further said that two judgments have taken a view which require a consideration by a larger bench of three judges for authoritative decision on the questions of the parameters which have to be taken into consideration by the Scrutiny Committee to verify the caste certificate.

Thus, the Division Bench referred the larger question to a Three-Judge Bench. 

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