Bombay HC highlights illegality committed by Caste Scrutiny Committee

Bombay HC directs Principal Secretary, Tribal Research and Development to be present in next hearing

Bombay HC

The Bombay High Court, hearing a matter pertaining to a man’s claim of belonging to a particular caste, took serious note of the “illegality” committed by the caste scrutiny committees time and again. The HC directed the Principal Secretary of the Tribal Research and Development that he be personally present in court to inform it about the steps that he may propose to take ti ensure that the committees don’t pass orders in an illegal manner.

The court was presiding over the case of a man who was seeking relevant documents concerning his claims of belonging to a certain caste. In a previous hearing on December 2017, the Court had directed that the claim of the petitioner must be decided within a period of one month. Even after two months from the date on which the committee members undertook to decide the petitioner’s matter, the case remained undecided, after which the court issued a show-cause notice to the members of the committee. The court asked them that why action should not be taken against them as they had breached the undertaking given to the court.

When the matter came up on February 27, it was informed to the HC that the members of the committee had sought for a vigilance cell inquiry report as petitioner’s real sister lived in Thane and they had inquired about her from the Thane caste Scrutiny Committee. Earlier, the court had advised to take into account the validity certificate granted in favour of the petitioner’s real sister. However, on February 28, Justice B.R. Gavai, while hearing the matter said, “Time and again, we are noticing that the members of the Caste Scrutiny Committees are indulging in illegality one after another.”

Commenting on the fact that the vigilance cell inquiry report wasn’t provided, the judges said, “We find that the reason given by the members of the committee for not deciding the matter within the stipulated period and not granting validity to the petitioner is in breach of the law laid down by the Division Bench of this Court… We are, therefore, of the considered view that the following members of the Caste Scrutiny committee, Nashik, have committed contempt of this Court.”

While deciding the quantum of punishment for the committee members for contempt of court, it gave an opportunity to the officials and directed the Principal Secretary of the Tribal Research and Development, to remain personally present before March 1.

Satisfied by the response given by the Principal Secretary that the matter will be resolved expeditiously, the court decided not to initiate any action against the members.



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