August 19, 2021 4:59:55 am
The Allahabad High Court has set aside the Uttar Pradesh government’s order designating two Gond sub-castes — Nayak and Ojha — in the category of Scheduled Tribes (ST).
Noting that it was not permissible for the state government to pass such an order, the Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice Rajendra Kumar said: “…it is not in dispute that competence to issue notification for caste to fall in the category of Scheduled Tribes lies with the Parliament under Article 342 of the Constitution of India”. The court said that the state government “was not required or was having the competence to issue an order either giving interpretation or substitution of the notification”.
The court was referring to the January 8, 2003 Gazette Notification of the Government of India through which it brought the Gond caste in the Scheduled Tribes category in Uttar Pradesh. The High Court Bench was hearing a petition filed by Nayak Jan Seva Sansthan, challenging the July 15, 2020 order of the UP government in which it had amended the 2003 notification to include Gond sub-castes Nayak and Ojha in the Scheduled Tribes category.
The petitioner’s lawyer, Krishna Mohan Misra, told the High Court that the competence to issue a notification to identify a caste to fall in the Scheduled Tribes category lies with Parliament under Article 342 of the Constitution.
Additional Advocate General Manish Goyal, arguing on behalf of the UP government, submitted that the 2020 order was in “consonance” to the Union government’s Gazette Notification of 2003” and it was issued to curb malpractices adopted by people to get caste certificates fraudulently. “After taking caste certificate fraudulently, they were using it for different purposes… To nullify this, the order (was issued by the state government) on July 15, 2020,” Goyal said, adding that it was being wrongly seen as an order either for interpretation or substitution of the Gazette Notification of the Government of India.
He said that if “the court “gives direction to issue caste certificate in reference to the 2003 Gazette Notification, the State would have no objection “but it may be made clear that the caste certificate may be issued after scrutiny so that those not following in any of the caste given in the notification may not get the certificate”. The court said while “the impugned order was issued to stop the fraudulent acts of persons in obtaining caste certificate… but looking to certain substitutions, it is set aside”.
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