The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday set aside the order of the Tribal Development Commission (TDC) that had turned invalid the caste certificate of Bhupendra Khant, Independent MLA from Morva Hadaf in Panchmahals district. Khant, who had joined the Congress after the Assembly poll results, contested from Morva Hadaf, a seat reserved for tribals.
TDC appointed scrutiny committee had reviewed Khant’s tribal status after three separate complaints were filed challenging his tribal status which declared his caste certificate invalid. Khant moved the HC for quashing the TDC order and contended that he was not heard before arriving at the committee arrived at the conclusion. The commission had said that Khant’s mother was a tribal while his father and brother are non-tribals and therefore his status as ST stands invalid.
The single-bench of Justice Bela Trivedi passed an order setting aside the commission’s order. The order stated, “The Court was of the prima facie opinion that the petitioner was not afforded sufficient opportunity of being heard before the impugned order was passed by the respondent No.2 (commission). The Additional Advocate General for the respondent – state therefore fairly stated that he has no objection if the impugned order is set aside, and the respondent No. 2 authority is directed to hear and decide the matter afresh after granting the petitioner one more opportunity of hearing.”
The court has directed Khant to file his reply and documents to support his claim by February 7 and the commission will decide the matter afresh by February 21.