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SCHEDULE TRIBE CASTE - AFFINITY TEST MAY BE USED TO CORROBORATE THE DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE AND SHOULD NOT BE THE SOLE CRITERIA TO REJECT A CLAIM. 2011 SC

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JUSTICE D.K. JAIN, and JUSTICE ASOK KUMAR GANGULY in a cse Decided on 08-11-2011 in ANAND VS COMMITTEE FOR SCRUTINY
Held That:- Needless to add that the burden of proving the caste claim is upon the applicant. He has to produce all the requisite documents in support of his claim. The Caste Scrutiny Committee merely performs the role of verification of the claim and therefore, can only scrutinise the documents and material produced by the applicant. In case, the material produced by the applicant does not prove his claim, the Committee cannot gather evidence on its own to prove or disprove his claim.

It is manifest ……………. that the genuineness of a caste claim has to be considered not only on a thorough examination of the documents submitted in support of the claim but also on the affinity test, which would include the anthropological and ethnological traits etc., of the applicant. However, it is neither feasible nor desirable to lay down an absolute rule, which could be applied mechanically to examine a caste claim. Nevertheless, we feel that the following broad parameters could be kept in view while dealing with a caste claim:

1. While dealing with documentary evidence, greater reliance may be placed on pre- Independence documents because they furnish a higher degree of probative value to the declaration of status of a caste, as compared to post-Independence documents. In case the applicant is the first generation ever to attend school, the availability of any documentary evidence becomes difficult, but that ipso facto does not call for the rejection of his claim. In fact the mere fact that he is the first generation ever to attend school, some benefit of doubt in favour of the applicant may be given. Needless to add that in the event of a doubt on the credibility of a document, its veracity has to be tested on the basis of oral evidence, for which an opportunity has to be afforded to the applicant;
2. While applying the affinity test, which focuses on the ethnological connections with the scheduled tribe, a cautious approach has to be adopted. A few decades ago, when the tribes were somewhat immune to the cultural development happening around them, the affinity test could serve as a determinative factor. However, with the migrations, modernisation and contact with other communities, these communities tend to develop and adopt new traits which may not essentially match with the traditional characteristics of the tribe. Hence, affinity test may not be regarded as a litmus test for establishing the link of the applicant with a Scheduled Tribe. Nevertheless, the claim by an applicant that he is a part of a scheduled tribe and is entitled to the benefit extended to that tribe, cannot per se be disregarded on the ground that his present traits do not match his tribes’ peculiar anthropological and ethnological traits, deity, rituals, customs, mode of marriage, death ceremonies, method of burial of dead bodies etc. Thus, the affinity test may be used to corroborate the documentary evidence and should not be the sole criteria to reject a claim.

QUOTED CITATIONS

Justice R.V. Raveendran, and Justice Harjit Singh Bedi in case of Sayanna Vs. State Of Maharashtra & Ors. Reported in (2009) 10 SCC 268 “The claim of the appellant that he belongs to Mannerwarlu Scheduled Tribe could not have been negatived on the ground that he had no basic knowledge of traits, characteristics, customs and culture, etc. of Mannerwarlu Scheduled Tribe or that he failed to prove his affinity and ethnic linkage to Mannerwarlu Scheduled Tribe. On the facts and in the circumstances of the case this Court is of the opinion that the decision of the Scrutiny Committee to cancel and confiscate the caste certificate issued to the appellant is based on irrelevant considerations and suffers from the vice of non-consideration of relevant factors. Therefore, the said decision as well as the decision of the High Court, confirming the said decision, are liable to be set aside.”



GUIDELINES ISSUED IN KUMARI MADHURI PATIL VS ADDL. COMMISSIONER REPORTED IN AIR 1995 SC 94, 1994 SCC (6) 241, BY JUSTICE RAMASWAMY:-

The admission wrongly gained or appointment wrongly obtained on the basis of false social status certificate necessarily has the effect of depriving the genuine Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes or OBC candidates as enjoined in the Constitution of the benefits conferred on them by the Constitution. The genuine candidates are also denied admission to educational institutions or appointments to office or posts under a State for want of social status certificate. The ineligible or spurious persons who falsely gained entry resort to dilatory tactics and create hurdles in completion of the inquiries by the Scrutiny Committee. It is true that the applications for admission to educational institutions are generally made by a parent, since on that date many a time the student may be a minor. It is the parent or the guardian who may play fraud claiming false status certificate. It is, therefore, necessary that the certificates issued are scrutinised at the earliest and with utmost expedition and promptitude. For that purpose, it is necessary to streamline the procedure for the issuance of social status certificates, their scrutiny and their approval, which may be the following:

1. The application for grant of social status certificate shall be made to the Revenue Sub-Divisional Officer and Deputy Collector or Deputy Commissioner and the certificate shall be issued by such officer rather than at the Officer, Taluk or Mandal level.

2. The parent, guardian or the candidate, as the case may be, shall file an affidavit duly sworn and attested by a competent gazetted officer or non-gazetted officer with particulars of castes and sub-castes, tribe, tribal community, parts or groups of tribes or tribal communities, the place from which he originally hails from and other particulars as may be prescribed by the Directorate concerned.

3. Application for verification of the caste certificate by the Scrutiny Committee shall be filed at least six months in advance before seeking admission into educational institution or an appointment to a post.

4. All the State Governments shall constitute a Committee of three officers, namely, (1) an Additional or Joint Secretary or any officer higher in rank of the Director of the department concerned, (11) the Director, Social Welfare/Tribal Welfare/Backward Class Welfare, as the case may be, and (III) in the case of Scheduled Castes another officer who has intimate knowledge in the verification and issuance of the social status certificates. In the case of the Scheduled Tribes, the Research Officer who has intimate knowledge in identifying the tribes, tribal communities, parts of or groups of tribes or tribal communities.

5. Each Directorate should constitute a vigilance cell consisting of Senior Deputy Superintendent of Police in over-all charge and such number of Police Inspectors to investigate into the social status claims. The Inspector would go to the local place of residence and original place from which the candidate hails and usually resides or in case of migration to the town or city, the place from which he originally hailed from. The vigilance officer should personally verify and collect all the facts of the social status claimed by the candidate or the parent or guardian, as the case may be. He should also examine the school records, birth registration, if any. He should also examine the parent, guardian or the candidate in relation to their caste etc. or such other persons who have knowledge of the social status of the candidate and then submit a report to the Directorate together with all particulars as envisaged in the pro forma, in particular, of the Scheduled Tribes relating to their peculiar anthropological and ethnological traits, deity, rituals, customs, mode of marriage, death ceremonies, method of burial of dead bodies etc. by the castes or tribes or tribal communities concerned etc.

6. The Director concerned, on receipt of the report from the vigilance officer if he found the claim for social status to be "not genuine" or 'doubtful' or spurious or falsely or wrongly claimed, the Director concerned should issue show-cause notice supplying a copy of the report of the vigilance officer to the candidate by a registered post with acknowledgement due or through the head of the educational institution concerned in which the candidate is studying or employed. The notice should indicate that the representation or reply, if any, would be made within two weeks from the date of the receipt of the notice and in no case on request not more than 30 days from the date of the receipt of the notice. In case, the candidate seeks for an opportunity of hearing and claims an inquiry to be made in that behalf, the Director on receipt of such representation/reply shall convene the committee and the Joint/Additional Secretary as Chairperson who shall give reasonable opportunity to the candidate/parent/guardian to adduce all evidence in support of their claim. A public notice by beat of drum or any other convenient mode may be published in the village or locality and if any person or association opposes such a claim, an opportunity to adduce evidence may be given to him/it. After giving such opportunity either in person or through counsel, the Committee may make such inquiry as it deems expedient and consider the claims vis-a-vis the objections raised by the candidate or opponent and pass an appropriate order with brief reasons in support thereof.

7. In case the report is in favour of the candidate and found to be genuine and true, no further action need be taken except where the report or the particulars given are procured or found to be false or fraudulently obtained and in the latter event the same procedure as is envisaged in para 6 be followed.

8. Notice contemplated in para 6 should be issued to the parents/guardian also in case candidate is minor to appear before the Committee with all evidence in his or their support of the claim for the social status certificates.

9. The inquiry should be completed as expeditiously as possible preferably by day-to-day proceedings within such period not exceeding two months. If after inquiry, the Caste Scrutiny Committee finds the claim to be false or spurious, they should pass an order cancelling the certificate issued and confiscate the same. It should communicate within one month from the date of the conclusion of the proceedings the result of enquiry to the parent/guardian and the applicant.

10. In case of any delay in finalising the proceedings, and in the meanwhile the last date for admission into an educational institution or appointment to an officer post, is getting expired, the candidate be admitted by the Principal or such other authority competent in that behalf or appointed on the basis of the social status certificate already issued or an affidavit duly sworn by the parent/guardian/candidate before the competent officer or non-official and such admission or appointment should be only provisional, subject to the result of the inquiry by the Scrutiny Committee.
11. The order passed by the Committee shall be final and conclusive only subject to the proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution.
12. No suit or other proceedings before any other authority should lie.


Again in Director of Tribal Welfare, Government of A.P. Vs. Laveti Giri & Anr (1995) 4 SCC 32 while reiterating the guidelines laid down in Kumari Madhuri Patil Court observed that it was high time that the Government of India should have the matter examined in greater detail and bring about a uniform legislation with necessary guidelines and rules prescribing penal consequences on persons who flout the Constitution and corner the benefits reserved for the real tribals, etc., so that the menace of fabricating records to gain unconstitutional advantages could be prevented.

CASE LAW ON LAND LAWS

KARNATAKA LAND LAWS