The Bombay High Court today held that over 35 lakh persons belonging to various reserved categories across Maharashtra will have to get their caste claims revalidated,as certificates issued to them were “null and void” in the absence of vigilance reports.
As a result,the validity of election of many candidates from reserved categories in the recent civic polls too may be in doubt.
The division bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar held that the Caste Scrutiny Committees,set up to scrutinize caste claims,are required to refer every claim to Vigilance Cells.
“Without the vigilance report,the committee cannot validate any caste claim,” the court observed.
The judgement puts a question mark on the validity of election of candidates from reserved seats of the civic bodies across Maharashtra. The court held 33 temporary Caste Scrutiny Committees set up to expeditiously decide caste claims of candidates of recently held civic polls as “unconstitutional”.
These committees had issued more than 27,000 caste validity certificates each day.
The High Court took up the issue after it was flooded with petitions challenging the caste validity certificates before and after the civic polls.
The petitions challenged the constitutional validity of the specially constituted Caste Scrutiny Committees and the validity of the certificates issued by them.
Counsel for some of the petitioners,Sugandh Deshmukh,argued that the committees are required to refer every matter to the vigilance cells in view of the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court.
Senior Counsel V A Gangal,appearing for the state,however argued that every matter was not needed to be referred to the vigilance cell.
Gangal told the court that after the Supreme Court delivered the verdict in Madhuri Patil’s case in 1995,more than 37 lakh caste claims had been validated by Scrutiny Committees,and 35 lakh of these claims were validated without referring them to the vigilance cell.
Therefore,Gangal said,if the argument of the petitioners was to be accepted,more than 35 lakh persons would be affected,and in that scenario,it would amount to passing a judgement without hearing all these persons.
The court has stayed the execution of its order for 10 weeks upon the state government’s request,to enable it to file appeal in the Supreme Court.