June 16, 2022 2:34:42 pm
The Bombay High Court Thursday directed the Maharashtra government and the Mumbai District Caste Certificate Scrutiny Committee to reply within two weeks to the plea by former NCB zonal director Sameer Wankhede challenging a show-cause notice issued by the panel on April 29, calling it to be “illegal, arbitrary and against the provisions of law.”
Wankhede has also challenged the panel’s order rejecting his application challenging the locus (standing) of NCP leader Nawab Malik, who had claimed the officer had forged his caste certificate.
A division bench of Justice R D Dhanuka and Justice Madhav J Jamdar was hearing Wankhede’s pleas.
According to Wankhede, the April 29 order had stated that “considering complaints, documents, etc, it proves that petitioner belongs to Muslim caste and follows Muslim religion”. It had asked why it cannot confiscate and cancel his caste certificate dated March 5, 2008, which said that he belonged to the “Mahar community”.
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Wankhede, in his plea filed through advocate Bhushan V Mahadik, claimed that the panel failed to consider his objections about the locus standi of the complaint filed last December by now arrested state Minister Nawab Malik.
Malik had alleged that Wankhede had forged his caste certificate and other documents to secure a job under the SC quota after clearing the UPSC Civil Services examination. This was after Wankhede led the probe in the Cordelia cruise ship drug bust case of October 2020, in which actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan was arrested. Aryan Khan was later released on bail by the Bombay High Court, which observed there was “hardly any positive evidence” to show a conspiracy between the accused as alleged by NCB.
Seeking that the notice is quashed, Wankhede on Wednesday urged the Bombay High Court that a committee headed by a former HC judge be set up to inquire into his caste certificate or the inquiry from the district panel be transferred to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes.
Wankhede claimed that the documents provided by him were not considered by the district caste scrutiny committee. While his entire family – on his father’s side – has caste certificates belonging to the Mahar community, none of their certificates has been questioned, he added.
He further said that as his mother is a Muslim, at the time of his birth, without his father’s consent, the name Dawood K Wankhede was incorrectly provided as his father’s name to the concerned hospital. Also, “Muslim” was incorrectly recorded in his birth certificate against the category of “race, caste or nationality”. He also said his schools record also incorrectly mentioned “Muslim” from 1985 to 1989, following which the records were corrected.
On Thursday, the caste panel’s lawyers raised preliminary objection about the maintainability of the plea and said that since the cause of action is in Mumbai, the plea should have been filed before an original jurisdiction of the high court and not before the civil appellate jurisdiction. Government pleader P P Kakade said that the matter before the panel is adjourned till the first week of July and Wankhede’s pleas in HC can be heard at the end of June.
The court directed its registry to place the plea on the original side jurisdiction within two days. The bench sought reply from respondents and posted the further hearing to July 4.
The court was told that the panel will accept the request for adjournment of the hearing before it till July 11.
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