Kerala High Court: Raja Vijayaraghavan V, J., held that marrying a Christian man would not wipe off the benefit of a reservation granted to scheduled caste persons.

The petitioner was born in the Hindu-Kuravan community, which is included in the list of Scheduled Castes in the State of Kerala. After acquiring requisite qualifications, the petitioner applied for the post of Lower Primary School Teacher, pursuant to notification issued by the Kerala Public Service Commission. On being asked to upload the caste certificate, the petitioner approached the Village Officer and submitted an online application for obtaining the certificate.

The grievance of the petitioner was that the Tahsildar refused to issue the certificate on the ground that the petitioner had married a person belonging to the Christian community. The petitioner asserted that she was born as a Hindu – Kuravan and did not have an advantageous start in life being born in a forward caste. The petitioner submitted that marrying a Christian man would not wipe off the benefit of reservation granted to persons such as the petitioner as all through her life she had been suffering all handicaps and disadvantages for having been born as a member of the scheduled caste.

The Bench observed that since the petitioner was born as a Hindu Kuravan, there was no justification on the part of the respondents in rejecting the application on the ground that she had married a person belonging to the Christian community. Additionally, certain observations were made by the Bench:

  1. There is a clear circular of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India stating in emphatic terms that a person who is a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe would continue to be a member of that of Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, as the case may be, even after his or her marriage with a person who does not belong to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe.
  2. The preamble of Kerala (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Regulation of Issue of Community Certificates Act, 1996 states that the Act was enacted in order to curb effectively the evil practices of securing such certificates by persons other than those belonging to Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes for claiming the benefits of reservation and such other benefits meant for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes and to make provision for prescribing punishment therefor and to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
  • The Presidential notification issued under Article 341 showed that members of the Hindu-Kuravan community are entitled to be treated as Scheduled Caste.
  1. The basis of reservation under Article 15(4) and 16(4) of the Constitution is to provide additional protection to the members of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes as a class of persons who have been suffering for a considerable length of time due to social and economic backwardness.
  2. The object of Article 341(1) of the Constitution is to provide additional protection to the members of the Scheduled Caste having regard to the economical and educational backwardness from which they suffer.

Similarly, in Sunita Singh v. State of U.P., (2018) 2 SCC 493, the Supreme Court had occasion to observe that the caste or community of a person is to be decided on the basis of her/his birth in the said community.

Hence, the Bench opined that the Village Officer proceeded on the wrong basis that by marrying a person belonging to the Christian community, the petitioner would lose her right as a member of a scheduled caste and she would thereby be disentitled to a certificate showing the community to which she was born. The Bench also noted that even the rejection order was not properly communicated. Consequently, the authority concerned was directed to re-consider the request made by the petitioner and issue the community certificate as prayed for, within a week. [Jyothsna A v. Kerala Public Service Commission, WP(C) No. 22994 of 2021, decided on 20-10-2021]

Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Appearance by:

For the Petitioner: T.R.Jagadeesh, V.A.Vinod, Gyothish Chandran and B.Ratheesh, Advocates

For the Respondent: Nisha Bose, Senior Government Pleader

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