Bhushan Chaudhari v. State of Maharashtra & Ors.
Date of Order:
11 October, 2023
Justice Mr. Firdosh P. Pooniwalla
Justice Mr. Sunil B. Shukre
Petitioner: Bhushan Chaudhari
1. The State of Maharashtra
2. District Caste Certificate Scrutiny Committee
3. The Commissioner, State Common Entrance Test Cell
4. Directorate of Art, Khalshalal Awar
5. Mumbai University
6. The Principal, Sir J.J. Institute of Applied Arts.
The Hon’ble High Court of Bombay (hereinafter referred to as the ‘High Court’ or ‘the Court’), has dismissed the Petitioner’s Writ Petition and held that the High Court cannot intervene with the policies of institutions that hold their own sanctity. The only circumstances where the Court can practice its jurisdiction is when there has been any illegality or infringement of any Fundamental Right.
Caste Certificate Rules, 2012:
i. Sub-rule 10 of Rule 5 states that the claim of the Caste Certificate shall be decided by the Competent Authority within 45 days.
ii. Sub-rule 5 of Rule 18 provides for the maximum time frame within which the Scrutiny Committee shall make its decision.
The Constitution of India, 1950:
Article 226 provides that a writ petition can be filed before any High Court within whose jurisdiction the case arises, either wholly or partly.
- The Petitioner, Bhushan Chaudhari, was admitted on a reserved seat to J.J. School of Arts on the condition that he was to submit his Caste Validity Certificate by 14th August 2023.
- The certificate was issued to the petitioner on 16th August, due to which he failed to produce the certificate on time, consequently having his admission cancelled.
- The counsel for the petitioner argued that the admission of the petitioner was cancelled for no fault of his own, because the Scrutiny Committee which issued the certificate after a period of around 10 months and failed to follow the mandate of sub-rule 10 Rule 5 of the Caste Certificate Rules 2012 (the Rules).
- Rule 5(10) of the Caste Certificate Rules lays down that the claim of caste certificate shall be decided by the Competent Authority within 45 days.
- The Rules nowhere provide for consequences in the event of a delay nor does say that if the claim is not decided within the prescribed time, the certificate shall be deemed to be issued.
- Additionally sub-rule (5) of Rule 18 provides for a maximum limit of 3 months within which the scrutiny committee shall take its decision under ordinary circumstances, and an additional 2 months under exceptional circumstances.
- The petitioner has appeared before the Court to direct the Institute to extend the deadline for submission and allow him admission.
Whether the Court should direct J.J. Institute of Applied Arts to relax the time period for submission of the Caste Validity Certificate and allow the petitioner admission in the Institution?
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE PETITIONER:
- The delay in submission of the certificate was not the fault of the petitioner but that of the Scrutiny Committee.
- The Scrutiny Committee failed to follow the mandate of Rules 5(10) and 18(5) of the Caste Certificate Rules,2012 which provide for the period within which the certificate should be issued and the maximum time for the issuance of the certificate, respectively.
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT:
- The admission process of having a particular time limit for having certain things done is a peculiar characteristic which is sacrosanct.
- Caste Certificate Rules, do not provide for a consequence in the in event of a delay in issuance of certificate and is thus more of a directory nature than mandatory.
- At the outset, the J.J. Institute of Applied Arts reserves the right to set a limited time frame for submission of documents.
- If the Court were to intervene with the prescribed deadlines in the admission procedure, it would open floodgates for students with similar claims, hampering the overall admission procedure.
- The Court in the exercise of its extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 226, cannot direct any authority to relax any policy unless to facilitate the exercise of Fundamental Rights or removal of illegality.
- The Court finding no merit in the petition, dismissed it.
The High Court opined that it could not exercise its powers under Article 226 of the Constitution as there was no illegality or infringement on any Fundamental Rights by the Institute. The policy and practice of having limited time frames for various things facilitates a smoother admission procedure and intervening in the case would result in many other students coming up with similar claims creating a hindrance to a smooth admission process. The petitioner’s case was thus dismissed.