DATE OF JUDGEMENT
02 September 2021
Hon’ble Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Hon’ble Justice Aniruddha Bose
J. Chitra (Appellants)
District Collector and Chairman State Level Vigilance Committee, Tamil Nadu and Ors.
The appellant was issued with a community certificate when she was in tenth class showing her to be a part of Valluvan Community. While joining her service she applied for a community certificate which she submitted while joining the service. Ambedkar Service Association of the Accountant General raised doubts about the community certificate produced and she was directed to attend an inquiry by the Collector to establish the genuineness of the certificate. After enquiry by the District Vigilance Committee, it was concluded that the appellant belonged to Valluvan Community. On suspicions being raised again and inquiry, the Chennai District Vigilance Committee had passed an order in April 2008, cancelling the community certificate after which the appellant had approached the Court. The Court observed that DVC revoked the appellant’s community certificate after completing an investigation and concluding that she belongs to the Kailolan community, not the Valluvan community, which is a Scheduled Caste but this decision would not stand as the matter was finalized by the DVC in 1999 and it cannot be reopened.
1. The Court analysed the directions issued in the Kumari Madhuri Patil case keeping in mind the false caste certificates being used to secure admissions to educational institutions and public employment and reservations for genuine candidates. The directions included the power to grant social status certificate, verification process of the caste certificate, constitution of a committee for verification and issuing certificates and other recourses available to the party.
2. The Court in Dayaram Case held that the Scrutiny Committee is an administrative body that evaluates facts and investigates caste status claims. The Scrutiny Committee’s orders can be challenged in Court under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution and allowing civil cases with provisions for appeals and additional appeals would contradict the programme and encourage the very ills that the Court sought to eliminate.
3. The entire scheme in Kumari Madhuri Patil Case would continue unless the concerned legislature passes proper legislation to verify claims for SC/ST caste status. The Scrutiny Committees were informed that caste certificates issued without prior investigation would be examined. Scrutiny Committees are not required to verify caste certificates that were given after a thorough investigation.The Government of Tamil Nadu re-established DVCs to verify community certifications, and set guidelines for the operation of the District and State Level Vigilance Committees.
4. The Guidelines issued were as follows:
i. The decision of the reconstituted DVC on the legitimacy of Scheduled Tribes community certificates is final in instances referred to the three-member DVC by the SLSC as per Court directions before 12.09.2007.
ii. If the three-member DVC finds that a community certificate given by the Deputy Tahsildar/Tahsildar is not authentic and an individual files an appeal with the SLSC, the individual will be instructed to file a Writ Petition with the High Court.
iii. In the event that appeals against orders issued by the two-member DVC are submitted with the SLSC and are not remitted by the Government to the reconstituted three-member Scrutiny Committee due to the pending Writ Petitions before the Court, the SLSC will conduct an investigation.
5. The DVC performed an investigation in this case, and the community certificate was upheld in favour of the appellant. The DVC’s decision from 1999 has not been challenged in any Court. The SLSC lacked authority to reopen the case and return it to the DVC for further consideration since the DVC’s recognition of the Appellant’s community certificate had become final.
6. The SLSC is not allowed to reopen matters that have already been decided. The purpose of Scrutiny Committees verifying caste certificates is to prevent false and fake claims. Repeated requests for caste certificate verification will be damaging to SC/ST members. Only if the caste certificates are tainted by fraud or were granted without sufficient investigation can the investigation be reopened.The DVC revoked the appellant’s community certificate after completing an investigation and concluding that she belongs to the Kailolan community, not the Valluvan community, which is a Scheduled Caste.
7. Since the SLSC did not have the power to reopen the matter that had already been finalized, the Court did not find any requirement to consider the submissions of the appellant regarding the correctness of the decision of DVC and set aside the cancellation order.
There has been a rise in the fraud claims of people to take advantage of the reservation system and people have been seen forging certificates to claim admissions into educational institutes and employment services. Though changes in the reservation system are a necessity but this misuse needs to be stopped. The role of the Vigilance Committees is to ensure that such practices are curbed but that does not give them the power to repeatedly call for verification as this harasses the SC/ST people and is unfair towards them.
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