PRASHANT PANDIT SHELKE Vs. STATE OF MAHARASHTRA
HIGH COURT OF BOMBAY
Prashant Pandit Shelke
STATE OF MAHARASHTRA
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G.S. Kulkarni, J. -
(1.) This petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India challenges the order dated 2 September 2017 passed by respondent No. 2 - Scheduled Tribe Certificate Scrutiny Committee (for short 'the Scrutiny Committee'), Aurangabad Bench whereby the Scrutiny Committee has invalidated the caste certificate of the petitioner as belonging to 'Koli Mahadev' Scheduled tribe falling under the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order,1950.
(2.) The case of the petitioner is that by birth he belongs to 'Koli Mahadev' Scheduled tribe. A caste certificate dated 28 July 2008 to that effect was granted to the petitioner by the competent authority. As the petitioner was aspirant to pursue higher education in the field of medicine, the petitioner had approached the Scrutiny Committee seeking validity of the caste certificate. The application for a validity certificate was made by the petitioner on 13 December 2010 through his Junior College which was supported by various documents which included caste validity certificate granted to his father-Pandit Shamrao Shelke. The petitioner had appeared for NEET 2017 examination. During the verification of the documents, the competent authority for admission to the medical course directed the petitioner to file affidavit cum undertaking in regard to the caste claim of the petitioner as the proceedings for verification of his caste certificate was pending before respondent No. 2 Committee. This affidavit was filed, and the petitioner was granted medical admission in respondent No. 5-Topiwala National Medical College. In pursuance of the orders passed by this Court (Aurangabad Bench) in Writ Petition No. 8851 of 2017, provisional admission was granted to the students whose caste certificates were pending for validation before the scrutiny committee. The said order of this Court was being challenged before the Supreme Court in SLP No. 2021020224/ 2017. By an order dated 18 August 2017, the Supreme Court directed all the caste scrutiny committees who were seized of the matters of the students seeking admission to the medical course to dispose of the proceedings. On 30 August 2017 the caste scrutiny committee issued a notice to the petitioner to remain present for hearing on 31 August 2017. The petitioner appeared for hearing and ultimately by the impugned order the caste certificate of the petitioner was invalidated. In assailing the impugned order, the learned Counsel for the petitioner has made the following submissions:
(a) It is submitted that the scrutiny committee has discarded a vital document namely the caste validity certificate which was granted to the petitioner's father Pandit Shamrao Shelke.
(b) It is submitted that the certificate of validity was granted to the petitioner's father after following a proper procedure namely after a vigilance inquiry being conducted.
(c) It is submitted that there was no material to show that the petitioner's father had obtained validity certificate by practising any fraud or by misrepresentation or that the scrutiny committee had no jurisdiction.
(d) It is submitted that there are several documents to show that the relatives of the petitioner belong to 'Koli Mahadev' or 'Mahadev Koli' and therefore, considering the decision of this Court in Prakash Subhash Bhoplle v. Deputy Collector and Ors., 2015(6) Bom.C.R.554 the Committee could have reached to a conclusion that the petitioner did belong to scheduled tribe 'Koli Mahadev'.
(e) It is submitted that the observations in regard to the place of residence of the petitioner being Taluka Bhokardan, District Jalana, that it is the place of origin from where a 'Koli Mahadev' Scheduled tribe would find his roots, so as to grant the benefit of a caste certificate belonging to scheduled tribe, are erroneous inasmuch as the area restriction are no more relevant in view of Central Act No. 108 of 1976.
(3.) On the other hand, the learned Advocate General would submit that the order passed by the caste scrutiny committee calls for no interference, as the scrutiny committee has taken into consideration all the documents as presented on behalf of the petitioner as also has applied the correct principles of law to conclude that the caste validity certificate granted in favour of the petitioner's father cannot be accepted. It is submitted that the scrutiny committee has rightly observed that the place of residence of the petitioner is an area where the traditionally 'Mahadev Kolis' have no roots. The committee would thus be correct in its observation that the petitioner having failed to produce any documents to show that his linkage to the area where the root of the 'Mahadev Koli' or 'Koli Mahadev', tribe is found, the caste certificate of the petitioner cannot be granted a validity. In support of the submission, learned Advocate General placed reliance on the decisions of this Court in (i) "Muktai d/o. Gulab Deoraj v. Scheduled Tribe Certificate, Scrutiny Committee and Anr.,Writ Petition No. 8776 of 2010, decided on 6 December 2010 ; (ii)Dattu s/o. Namdev Thakur v. State of Maharashtra and Ors., (2010)2 Mh. L.J. 494 ; (iii) the decision of Full Bench Bench of this Court in "Yogita d/o. Anil Sonawane v. State of Maharashtra (supra).;
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