No interference by High Court in case of incontrovertible findings of fact by the caste scrutiny committee: Bombay High Court

Affinity test may not be regarded as a litmus test for establishing the link of the applicant with a particular Caste. Thus, the affinity test may be used to corroborate the documentary evidence and should not be the sole criteria to reject a claim. This remarkable judgment was recently passed by Bombay High Court in the matter of SHRI VIJAYSING AJABSING PATIL V RESEARCH OFFICER, DISTRICT. CASTE VERIFICATION COMMITTEE [WRIT PETITION (ST.) NO. 7238 OF 2021] by Honourable Justice K.K.Tated and Justice Abhay Ahuja.

Through this Writ Petition, the Petitioner is seeking quashing and setting aside of the order passed by District Caste Verification Committee, Thane invalidating the caste claim of the Petitioner as ‘Rajput Bhamta’.

It is the claim of the Petitioner that he belongs to Hindu Rajput Bhamta caste which falls in V.J. category and has therefore submitted proposal for caste verification after which the caste claim of the Petitioner was subjected to inquiry by the Vigilance Cell. Through the Vigilance report it was submitted the petitioner’s caste appeared to be ‘Rajput Bhamta’ and hence the Petitioner was should file a fresh proposal and later received a notice issued by Additional Joint Registrar of Co-operative Societies, Konkan Division, Navi Mumbai that he was called for hearing.

Petitioner participated in the said hearing and a request to submit caste validity certificate within a period of 15 days or else suitable action would be initiated against the Petitioner. After submission of documents, scrutiny of documents was directed and issued notice to submit written explanation as the documents were insufficient and inconclusive to prove caste claim.

Petitioner submitted that the caste scrutiny committee has noted that the said documents have been verified with the original copy and found to be true and therefore there is no reason why the caste scrutiny committee has not considered the same to grant the caste claim of Petitioner.

The Court further observed that “From the Genealogy set out above, Petitioner is the real brother of Suryasing and his father is Ajabsing and grandfather is Waman. His cousin uncle is Narendrasing who is the son of Prakash comes from the lineage of cousin great grandfather Daulat. Thus, it is evident that the caste scrutiny committee has considered the documents that have been submitted by the Petitioner. Petitioner’s real brother Suryasing Ajabsing Patil in respect of the caste claim of ‘Rajput Bhamta’

The Court also added that “Petitioner’s grandfather Waman Gulaba Khanderao, the caste has been mentioned as ‘Rajput’. The original record of village form produced by the Tahasildar office before the committee, at that time it was noticed that the caste of the grandfather was mentioned as ‘Rajput’ and not as ‘Rajput Bhamta’.”

The Court relied on Supreme Court in the case of Madhuri Patil V/s. Additional Commissioner, Tribal Department AIR 1995 SC (94) and observed that, “It is obvious that Judicial Magistrate has no jurisdiction to issue Cast certificate and it is a void certificate.”

And also added that “When the Vigilance Squad made enquiry in respect of the said School Leaving Certificate, they noticed that the caste mentioned in the said document is only ‘Rajput’ and not Rajput Bhamta. The entries made in the school and Revenue proofs of the grandfather, submitted by the Applicant along with the Application are from the pre-independence period and the same is very important entries.”

Thus, the HC stated that “No fault can be found with the findings of the Scrutiny Committee. Based on clear evidence as recorded in the Impugned Order, we find that Form No.14 in the name of the grandfather as well as the School Leaving Certificates of grand-father refer to the caste as “Rajput” and not “Rajput Bhamta”. Even the father’s School Leaving Certificate mentions the caste as ‘Rajput’ and not ‘Rajput Bhamta’. Real brother Suryasingh’s caste certificate has been invalidated earlier. With respect of the Petitioner’s affinity test, the committee has clearly found that no similarity is seen as per the affinity test given by the Petitioner during the course of the hearing on 10th March, 2021 and the same has not been held to be valid for the Petitioner’s claim to ‘Rajput Bhamta’ caste.”

The HC dismissed the writ petition and since they agreed with the findings of the District authorities as the petitioner’s caste claim was invalid.

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