In the wake of huge pendency in the issuance of caste validity certificates by various caste scrutiny committees in the state, the Bombay High Court has taken serious cognisance of the lacunae and has directed the state government to follow a list of 18 directives as well as file a compliance report in the form of an affidavit on May 5. The court, while hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by Pune-based Ravindra Talpe, directed the state government to implement the directives before April 30.
The PIL filed through Advocate Uday P Warunjikar last October had the order pronounced on Wednesday. The petition raised important issues regarding the functioning of the competent authorities as well as caste scrutiny committees set up by the state government under the provisions of the Maharashtra scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, de-notified tribes, nomadic tribes, other backward classes and special backward category.
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The petitioner raised the issue of pendency of cases confined to the caste scrutiny committees constituted at Thane, Pune, Nashik, Amravati, Aurangabad, Nandurbar and Gadchiroli. “Data submitted by the petitioner states that under the 15 divisional caste scrutiny committees in the state, the total number of cases pending is 1, 06, 938 as of August 2014. While Konkan has 13,450 cases, Pune has more than 13,000, Nashik and Dhule have registered more than 20,000, and Amravati and Akola have more than 15,000 cases,’’ stated the petition. The PIL also stated that these 40,000 cases included applicants who sought validity for the purpose of education while 50,000 were for employment to government agencies. “The order will set things in place and address the huge pendency in cases regarding caste certificates,’’ said Talpe.
The court, in the list of interim directions, told the state government to appoint a committee of experts to determine a minimum monthly quota of cases required to be disposed of by each caste scrutiny committee, committees be headed by a retired judge and the number of committees required in the state be determined.
Besides establishing additional caste scrutiny committees at appropriate places, the court said adequate infrastructure should be made available for the existing committees as well as the necessary premises and staff. The court has directed the government to provide proper court rooms to conduct hearings.
In a step towards modernisation, the court has asked the government that applications made to screen caste certificates be scanned and digitalised while reports of the vigilance cell be digitilised.
“A common website shall be created for all the existing caste scrutiny committees and all orders as well as roznama of the cases shall be uploaded,’’ said the order.
“A report shall be filed by the government on the implementation of the directions on or before April 30,’’ said the directions while a report in the form of an affidavit to state the outer limit for compliance with the directions has to be submitted by May 5.