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J Chitra Vs District Collector And Chairman State Level Vigilance Committee, Tamil Nadu And Ors: The Repeated Enquiry Into The Validity Of Caste Certificate Is Detrimental To The Sc/St Community Members

SUSHREE SAHU ,
  03 December 2021       Share Bookmark

Court :
Supreme Court of India
Brief :
The appellant was issued with a community certificate showing her to be a part of SC. A Service Association raised doubts about the community certificate produced at service and she was directed to attend an inquiry by the Collector to establish the genuineness of the certificate. Chennai District Vigilance Committee had passed an order cancelling the community certificate. The Court held that the decision of DVC in the first enquiry was final and cannot be reopened and repeatedly asking for verification of the certificates is detrimental to the SC/ST members.
Citation :
CA No. 5160 of 2010

DATE OF JUDGEMENT
02 September 2021

CORUM
Hon’ble Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Hon’ble Justice Aniruddha Bose

PARTIES
J. Chitra (Appellants)
District Collector and Chairman State Level Vigilance Committee, Tamil Nadu and Ors.
(Respondents)

ISSUES

  1. Whether the State Level Scrutiny Committee had the authority to remand the case back to the District Vigilance Committee.
  2. Whether the decision of the District Vigilance Committee is correct in cancelling the caste certificate.

SUMMARY

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.

OVERVIEW

  • 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 was issued by the Tehsildar and submitted while joining the service.
  • The Dr. Ambedkar Service Association (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. A show cause notice was then issued for her to give reasons for not cancelling her certificate.
  • After enquiry by the District Vigilance Committee (DVC), it was expressed that the appellant belonged to Valluvan Community which a SC, after which her service was regularized and she was later on promoted.
  • The Association again submitted another representation seeking action against the appellant stating that she had used a false caste certificate to secure employment of which the appellant was informed and asked to appear for inquiry by the State Level Scrutiny Committee (SLSC) who remanded the matter to the DVC.
  • The Chennai District Vigilance Committee had passed an order in April 2008, cancelling the community certificate after which the appellant had approached the High Court but the Court also dismissed the petition.
  • The Court analysed the Supreme Court’s decisions in two landmark judgments and the guidelines issued in both to interpret the current case. After analysis the Court found that the decision of the DVC in 1999 would be final and the SLSC did not hold any power to reopen the case and remand it back to DVC for fresh inquiry.

ARGUMENTS BY THE PETITIONERS

  • The counsel for the petitioners submitted that the community certificate was subject matter of inquiry by the DVC in 1999 which was unchallenged and the SLSC did not have jurisdiction to remand the matter back to DVC for another fresh inquiry.
  • The counsel relied on the Kumari Madhuri Patil and Anr. v. Addl. Commissioner, Tribal Development and Ors and Dayaram v. Sudhir Batham and Ors.and argued that when the community certificate has been upheld, it cannot be reopened. He presented documents of proof of caste of the appellant.
  • The findings of the DVC are contrary to the findings of the DVC in 1999 and deserve to be set aside.

ARGUMENTS BY THE RESPONDENT

  • The counsel for the respondent submitted that DVC was reconstituted in 2005 and the DVC and SLSC were constituted to verify the genuineness of the SC/ST certificates issued.
  • The matter being remanded to the DVC for fresh enquiry was in accordance to the guidelines issued by the government and the DVC had conducted a detailed enquiry to conclude that she did not belong to the SC.

ANALYSIS OF THE JUDGEMENT

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.

CONCLUSION

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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