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Genuine Hardships Override Parental Affiliation In Affirmative Action Benefit Determination; Kerala High Court Set Aside The Order Rejecting The Application For A Community Certificate

Sanskriti Tiwari ,
  03 April 2024       Share Bookmark

Court :
Kerala High Court
Brief :

Citation :
2024 KER 23323

CASE NAME:

Sheeba CK vs. State of Kerala

CASE DATE:

15th March, 2024

PARTIES NAME:-

Petition: Sheeba CK

Respondent: State of Kerala

BENCH/JUDGE:

Justice Devan Ramchandran

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS:-

1.Article 15(4) of the Constitution:- 

This provision enables the State to make special provisions for the advancement of socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. It permits affirmative policies that guarantee equality of opportunity and advance their socio-economic development.

2.Article 16(4) of the Constitution:- 

This clause gives the State the power to make reservations in the public sectors for backward classes including SC/ST communities. It allows for affirmative action to address historical discrimination and ensure representation in government jobs.

SUBJECT:-

The petitioner, belonging to the ‘Pulaya Community’, challenged the rejection of her daughter’s application for a community certificate due to her husband’s Christian affiliation. The petitioner argued that her daughter faced prejudice as part of the Pulaya Community, supported by previous certificates. The Amicus Curiae highlighted relevant precedents, emphasizing that a child’s caste determination depends on factors beyond parental caste, including societal acceptance and hardships faced. The court accepted the Amicus Curiae’s opinion, setting aside the rejection and directing reconsideration of the application.

OVERVIEW:-

A petitioner from the Pulaya Community sought a community certificate for her daughter. However, her application was rejected because her husband belonged to the Christian community and hadn’t converted to Hinduism. The petitioner argued that her daughter had previously been granted a certificate and had suffered prejudices as part of the Pulaya Community.

ISSUES RAISED BEFORE THE COURT:-

1.Whether a daughter, whose mother belongs to the Scheduled Caste (Pulaya) community and her father belongs to the Christian (Cheramer) community, can claim the benefits of affirmative action based on the Scheduled Caste status of her mother?

a)    If yes, then what are the conditions under which she can be granted such benefits? 

b)    If she is otherwise eligible for such benefits, can she be denied the same merely because she is born out of an inter-religious marriage and not an inter-caste marriage?

CONTENTIONS RAISED ON BEHALF OF THE PETITIONER:-

  • The learned counsel for the petitioner, Adv. KV Bhadra Kumari, argued that her daughter had grown up as part of the Pulaya Community and had suffered prejudices and social disadvantages associated with it.
  • The petitioner asserted that her daughter had previously been granted a community certificate, indicating her belonging to the Pulaya Community.
  • It was contended that the rejection of the application for a community certificate for her daughter was unlawful and based on irrelevant grounds, such as her husband’s religious affiliation and non-conversion to Hinduism.

CONTENTIONS RAISED ON BEHALF OF THE RESPONDENT:-

  • The learned counsel for the respondent, contended that the rejection of the petitioner’s daughter’s application for a community certificate was legally justified, as the benefits of affirmative action, including community certificates, are typically intended for individuals from inter-caste marriages rather than inter-religious marriages.
  • The respondent argued that the petitioner’s husband’s Christian affiliation and his non-conversion to Hinduism were valid reasons for denying the community certificate to her daughter, as her eligibility was based on her mother’s caste status.
  •  The respondent maintained that there was insufficient evidence to establish that the petitioner’s daughter had experienced genuine prejudices and social disadvantages as a member of the Pulaya Community, warranting the issuance of a community certificate.

OBSERVATIONS MADE BY THE COURT:-

  • The court affirmed that merely because one parent belongs to a Scheduled Caste doesn’t conclude that the child’s caste is determined by the father; instead, it depends on whether the child experiences the same social disabilities and customs as the Scheduled Caste parent.
  •  The court emphasized that the crucial consideration is whether the child faces the indignities and handicaps associated with being a member of the Scheduled Caste, regardless of the marital status or religious affiliation of the parents.
  •  It was noted that denying benefits of affirmative action to a child who genuinely suffers from the disabilities of the Scheduled Caste, solely because of their inter-religious parentage, would be contrary to the principles of equality enshrined in the Constitution.
  •   The court underscored the importance of conducting an inquiry to determine whether the petitioner’s daughter genuinely faced the disabilities associated with belonging to the Pulaya Community, rather than basing decisions solely on the marital status or religious affiliation of the parents.

JUDGMENT:-

The court allowed the writ petition filed by the petitioner and set aside the rejection of her daughter’s application for a community certificate. A consequential direction was issued to the respondent, the State, to reconsider the petitioner’s application and grant the necessary caste certificate to her daughter in accordance with the law. The court emphasized that this reconsideration should be conducted expeditiously, within one month from the date of receipt of a copy of the judgment. Moreover, the court also commended the Amicus Curiae, Sri S. Vishnu, for his comprehensive assistance in the case.

CONCLUSION:-

The court’s decision to allow the writ petition and set aside the rejection of the petitioner’s daughter’s application for a community certificate underscores the importance of considering the genuine hardships and disabilities faced by individuals, particularly children, belonging to Scheduled Caste communities. The judgment highlights the principle that eligibility for affirmative action benefits should not be determined solely based on the marital status or religious affiliation of the parents, but rather on the actual experiences and societal acceptance of the individual. By directing the respondent to reconsider the application and grant the necessary caste certificate expeditiously, the court ensures that the principles of equality enshrined in the Constitution are upheld and deserving individuals are not denied rightful benefits based on arbitrary criteria.
 

 
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