One Can Claim Their Caste By Submitting Essential Documents: In Bombay High Court

Anyone claiming to be a member of a Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe, or Other Backward Class must present a certificate to the Appointing Authority/Selection Committee/Board, etc., supporting their claim to be eligible for reservation and other benefits. According to the order declared on 08.12.2021, he was invalidated on unreasonable grounds; hence the Petitioner filed a writ petition. The Court approved his petition after reviewing all the documents which proved that he is of the ‘Koli Mahadev’ Scheduled Tribe. S.G.DIGE, J on 20.01.2022, pronounced this Judgment in DURGESH SHASHIDHAR SAWALE V. THE STATE OF MAHARASHTRA AND ANOTHER.

Facts of the case: The Petitioner received a caste certificate in Form-C from the Sub Divisional Officer, Shirpur, District Nandurbar, as a member of the ‘Koli Mahadev’ Scheduled Tribe. Through the College of the Petitioner, the request for verification of the Petitioner’s tribal claim was forwarded to respondent no. 2 – Scrutiny Committee. The Petitioner had also filed a genealogy of his family, documented proof from 1925, the Petitioner’s and his family members’ education records, and an extract from the death registry for paternal side relatives in addition to the abovementioned plan. The Petitioner also included a caste validity certificate from the Nashik Caste Scrutiny Committee in favor of his actual Grandfather, Rajdhar Sena Sawale. The Scrutiny Committee of respondent no. 2 had ordered a vigilance investigation into the Petitioner’s caste claim. The Vigilance Cell investigated and presented their findings to the Scrutiny Committee. The Petitioner had responded to the report of the vigilance cell. By the challenged Judgment dated 08.12.2021, the Scrutiny Committee has dismissed the Petitioner’s tribal claim as ‘Koli Mahadev’ Scheduled Tribe based on the vigilance cell report and materials on record. The Petitioner wanted to claim his caste belonging to the ‘Koli Mahadev’ Scheduled Tribe. As a result, a writ petition was filed to overturn the order.

Mr.Yeramwar, learned counsel for the Petitioner, stated that he is a Koli Mahadev Scheduled Tribe member. The Scrutiny Committee ignored an excerpt from the death registry of the Petitioner’s great Grandfather, Lala Laxman, from 1925, which showed his caste status as ‘Koli Mahadev.’ The Vigilance Cell Officer confirmed it during the vigilance investigation of the Petitioner’s Grandfather. The Scrutiny Committee omitted the school record from 1941, which identifies the Petitioner’s cousin’s Grandfather’s caste as Mahadev Koli. The Scrutiny Committee was required to evaluate the earliest documented evidence, yet these records were not considered. The learned counsel for the Petitioner has relied upon the judgments in the case of “Anand V. Committee for Scrutiny and Verification of Tribe Claim & others reported in [2012] 1 SCC 113, in the case of Apoorva d/o. Vinay Nichale V. Divisional Caste Certificate Scrutiny Committee & others said in 2010 [6] Mh.L.J. 401, in the case of Amruta Vijay More V. State of Maharashtra and others [decided in I.A. No.3 of 2011 in Civil Appeal No.7230/2013] and in the case of Anita Atmaram Gaikwad V. State of Maharashtra & others in Special Leave to Appeal (Civil) No.23081/2010 (Civil Appeal No.3881/2013) decided on 16.4.2013.”

Mr.Kale learned AGP for respondent nos. 1 and 2 – State claimed that the Scrutiny Committee had considered the Petitioner’s outdated papers. The Scrutiny Committee also looked at a caste validity certificate granted to the Petitioner’s actual Grandfather. After reviewing all of the documentary evidence and the vigilance report, the Scrutiny Committee concluded that the Petitioner had failed to substantiate his claim to be a member of the Koli Mahadev Scheduled Tribe. In addition, the Petitioner was unable to pass the affinity test. There are counter records, and the Petitioner’s father’s caste is listed as “Tokre Koli.” As a result, respondent no. 2 – Scrutiny Committee’s ruling is valid and appropriate.

The Learned Judge, after reviewing the arguments contended by both sides, held that based on four ancient documentary evidence of his grandpa from the years 1941, 1948, and 1950, the Petitioner has correctly proved his caste as Koli Mahadev / Mahadev Koli Scheduled Tribe, and these papers must be acknowledged and acted upon. In the vigilance report, there are no negative remarks about the Petitioner. The Scrutiny Committee’s justifications are incorrect. The Scrutiny Committee did not adequately investigate pre-constitutional materials and came to the wrong Judgment. The challenged verdict of respondent no. 2 Scrutiny Committee, which invalidated the Petitioner’s tribal claim, must be overturned and set aside.

Click here to view the Judgement

Reviewed by Rangasree



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