Read Judgment: J. Chitra vs. District Collector & Chairman State Level Vigilance Committee, Tamil Nadu &Ors

Pankaj Bajpai

New Delhi, September 3, 2021: The Supreme Court has ruled that the purpose of verification of caste certificates by Scrutiny Committees is to avoid false and bogus claims, and hence, repeated inquiries for verification of caste certificates would be detrimental to the members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Reopening of inquiry into caste certificates can be only in case they are vitiated by fraud or when they were issued without proper inquiry, added the Court.

A Division Bench of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Aniruddha Bose observed that recognition of the community certificate issued in favour of the Appellant by the District Vigilance Committee having become final, the State Level Scrutiny Committee did not have jurisdiction to reopen the matter and remand for fresh consideration by the District Level Vigilance Committee.

The observation came pursuant to an order passed by the Chennai District Vigilance Committee cancelling the community certificate of the Appellant (Section officer in Office of Accountant General) stating it to be fake.

The background of the case was that the appellant while working in the Office of Accountant General, applied for a community certificate, which was issued by Tahsildar, Mylapore-Triplicane, Chennai. However, a complaint was preferred by Dr. Ambedkar Service Association in the Office of the Accountant General raising doubts about the community certificate.

Accordingly, notice was issued by the District Collector, Chennai directing the appellant to show cause as to why her community certificate should not be cancelled. This culminated in an inquiry by the District Vigilance Committee, who expressed that the appellant belongs to Valluvan community which is a Scheduled Caste.

However, later on, Dr. Ambedkar Service Association again submitted another representation that suitable action should be taken against the Appellant for securing employment as reserved category candidate on the basis of a false caste certificate.This resulted in an order being passed by the District Vigilance Committee cancelling community certificate of the Appellant.

After considering the arguments, the Top Court found that the District Level Vigilance Committee cancelled the community certificate issued in favour of the appellant after conducting an inquiry and coming to a conclusion that she belongs to Kailolan community and not to Valluvan community which is a Scheduled Caste.

Thus, the State Level Scrutiny Committee did not have the power to reopen the matter relating to the caste certificate that was approved by the District Vigilance Committee in the year 1999 without any appeal filed against that order, added the Court.

The Apex Court noted that in the instant case, an inquiry was conducted by the District Level Vigilance Committee which has upheld the community certificate in favour of the Appellant and the decision of the District Level Vigilance Committee in theyear 1999 has not been challenged in any forum.

Therefore, the Top Court allowed the appeal and set aside the action of District Vigilance Committee cancelling the community certificate.

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