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mumbai high court

Affinity test may not be regarded as a litmus test for establishing the link of the applicant with a scheduled tribe: Bombay High Court

Rejection of claim of petitioners on the ground of failure to establish cultural affinity is absolutely unwarranted such findings cannot be legally sustained. Nobody can be denied the benefit on the ground that their present traits do not match the tribe’s peculiar anthropological and ethnological traits, deity, rituals, customs, mode of marriage, death ceremonies, etc. since affinity test can only be used to corroborate the documentary evidence and should not be the sole criteria to reject the claim. This remarkable judgment was passed by the Bombay High Court in the matter of SATISH JANARDAN THAKUR & ONR. V ST CASTE CERTIFICATE VERIFICATION COMMITTEE [WRIT PETITION NO. 3770 OF 2017] by Honourable Justice R.D.Dhanuka and Justice V. G. Bisht.

This Petition was filed under Article 226 challenging the impugned judgment and order of the Scheduled Tribe Caste Certificate Verification Committee, Pune Division. The Petitioner seeks direction for the respondents to validate his tribal claim and thus hold that he belongs to ‘Thakar’ (Reserved Category).

The facts of the case in brief are, Petitioner No.1 is working as a Senior Clerk in the office of Superintendent Pay and Provident Unit in Solapur and Petitioner No.2 is his who is a college-going boy. The petitioners have submitted that the Caste Certificate was issued in 2003 by the Competent Authority that clearly depicted that both of them belong to Thakar. He submitted his Caste Certificate in 2007 to respondents and his son submitted it in 2013 for verification of the tribe claim along with all necessary documents in support of their tribe claim. However, respondent No.1 rejected the tribe claim.

According to petitioners, the school records of the father show his caste as Hindu- Thakar and the same is the case with his relatives. However, evidence is much prior to the Presidential Order of the year 1950 and thus, the said evidence has got the probative value but the same was not taken into consideration by the committee.

The certificates of validity of the relatives of the petitioners are not only in very much operation but the same till date have not been invalidated or canceled by the Scrutiny Committee after giving an opportunity to the concerned relatives of the petitioners.

The HC observed that the “Approach of Scrutiny Committee is absurd and preposterous since they blinked the contents of pre-constitutional school records. The Scrutiny Committee could not have proceeded in absence of concrete and clinching evidence, that too without offering a reasonable opportunity to these relatives of petitioners whose certificates of validity it was questioning. There is no perceptible and tangible basis to opine that certificates of validity of named relations were obtained or secured by suppression of facts or by misrepresentation.”

In Anand Vs. Committee for Scrutiny and Verification of Tribe Claims and Ors, the Hon’ble Apex Court held that while applying the affinity test, a cautious approach has to be adopted. Thus, the HC stated that “the petitioner could not be denied the benefit on the ground that his present traits do not match his tribe’s peculiar anthropological and ethnological traits, deity, rituals, customs, mode of marriage, death ceremonies, etc., and thus the affinity test can only be used to corroborate the documentary evidence and should not be the sole criteria to reject the claim.

Also, the HC opined that “if the caste claim of the candidate has been held to be belonging to Scheduled Tribe, then other close blood relatives cannot be denied the validity certificate. In the light of the ratio laid down by this Court in the case of Apoorva d/o Vinay Nichale as the petitioners’ real cousins are already granted caste validity certificates as belonging to Thakar- Scheduled Tribe, in that view of the matter, the present petitioners also deserve the similar certificates of validity.

Thus, the HC held that the order of the Scrutiny Committee invalidating the claim of the petitioner is totally perverse and is unsustainable and hence was quashed and set aside.

Click here for the judgment

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