Once a caste finds entry in the SC/ST Order, its members have to be extended benefits flowing therefrom

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench comprising of B.R. Gavai and Bharati. H.Dangre, JJ. decided a writ petition relating to validation of petitioner’s claim as belonging to the ‘Thakar’ Scheduled Tribe that finds place at Entry 44 in the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950.

The petitioner was appointed at the post of Shikshak Sevak in New English School for which he submitted caste certificate. The Scheduled Tribe Caste Scrutiny Committee rejected the claim of the petitioner on the ground that he was not able to prove that he belonged to ‘Thakar’ Scheduled Tribe. The present petition which was the third round of litigation was filed challenging the order made by the Committee rejecting petitioner’s claim.

The rejection order of the Committee was based on the reasoning that Thakar caste was different from Thakar Scheduled Tribe. The High Court dismissing such a reasoning, inter alia, held that once a particular caste finds a place in a particular entry in the SC/ST Order, it is not permissible for the committee to deny the members of the said community the benefits flowing therefrom. It is settled position of law that it is not permissible for either States or Courts to interpret the entries which are in the form of Orders under Articles 341 and 342 of the Constitution. The Court held that the Committee erred in rejecting the claim of the petitioner by recording the aforesaid reason. Further, the Committee grossly erred in relying solely on the ‘affinity test’ completely ignoring the documents of pre-independence era that had great probative value in reaching the conclusion that the petitioner belonged to Thakar caste and not Thakar Scheduled Tribe. Therefore, the petition was allowed and the impugned order was quashed with necessary directions. [Sujit Suresh Gangavane v. State of Maharashtra, 2018 SCC OnLine Bom 1008, dated 01-03-2018]

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