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Ananya R. Shetty v/s The Dean, National Institute Of Technology, Mangalore & Others

    WP. Nos. 14514 of 2021, 15057 of 2020
    Decided On, 08 October 2021
    At, High Court of Karnataka
    For the Petitioner: Dr. S. Arumugham, Advocate. For the Respondents: R1 & R2, Ashwini Rajagopal, Advocate, R3 & R4, Pramodhini Kishan, AGA.

Judgment Text
(Prayer: This Writ petition is filed Under Articles 226 & 227 of the Constitution of India praying to issue direction to the R1 and 2 to withdraw the impugned official memorandum dated 05.11.2020 at Annexure-L and etc.

This Writ Petition is filed under Articles 226 & 227 of the Constitution of India praying to quash the impugned official memorandum issued by the R-1 and 2 Vide dtd.5.11.2020 at Annexure-A and etc.)

1. The petitioner obtained admission to B.Tech course in the respondent-Institution, NITK under the OBC quota. An Official Memorandum dated 05.11.2020 was issued by the Institution that when the OBC Certificate was sent for verification, it was brought to the notice of the Institution that by order dated 04.09.2020, the Deputy Commissioner, Udupi District, had cancelled the certificate issued in favour of the petitioner. However, since the admission was granted to the petitioner provisionally, based on the Caste certificate dated 25.06.2014, subject to verification and since the said caste certificate was cancelled, the Institution declared that the provisional admission granted to the petitioner is deemed to be void and consequently, cancelled. The petitioner was directed to return all the Grade cards, certificates etc. The said Official Memorandum dated 05.11.2020 is challenged in W.P.No.15057/2020.

2. In the said writ petition, by order dated 18.12.2020, the order of cancellation made by the Deputy Commissioner was stayed, while directing the respondent-Institution to issue the 8th Semester Grade Card and B.Tech Degree Certificate, subject to the final outcome of the writ petition. However, the interim order dated 18.12.2020 was modified on 08.01.2021 restricting the interim order staying the order passed by the Deputy Commissioner only. At that stage, the second writ petition was filed with the following prayers:

i) Issue a writ of mandamus or any other writ or direction to the respondents 1 and 2 to withdraw the impugned Official Memorandum vide No.NITK/Academic/ 2020-21/E9 dated 5.11.2020 at Annexure- L in the interest of justice and equity.

ii) Declare that the impugned order of the 3rd respondent Deputy Commissioner, Udupi District, dated 4.9.2020 at Annexure-K directing the 4th respondent to cancel the caste certificate of the petitioner dated 25.6.2014 as per Annexure-F is without jurisdiction and as null and void, in the interest of justice and equity.

iii) Grant such other relief/s as this Hon’ble Court deems fit in the facts and circumstances of the case, in the interest of justice and equity.

3. Learned Senior Counsel Sri.P.S.Rajagopal, appearing for the respondent-Institution submits that the petitioner herein had earlier approached this Court in W.P.No.25977/2014 seeking to quash an endorsement dated 14.05.2014 issued by the Special Tahsildar, Brahmavara, Udupi, declining to issue a Caste Certificate declaring the petitioner as belonging to Nadava community. It was the contention of the petitioner that Nadava and Bunts are equivalent and therefore, even if the petitioners surname is Shetty, she should be declared as belonging to Nadava community. This Court by order dated 11.06.2014, while noticing that in another petition, in W.P.No.39894/2012, by order dated 10.10.2012, wherein it was noticed that the caste Nadava is indicated in the Central List at Sl.No.122 and although the petitioner therein had a surname Shetty, the Court had quashed the endorsement issued by the Tahsildar and had directed reconsideration, therefore, the endorsement dated 14.05.2014 was quashed and the Tahsildar was directed to reconsider the application made by the petitioner.

4. In the meanwhile, the caste certificate produced by the petitioner before the respondent- Institution was sent for verification and the District Caste Verification Committee, after holding an enquiry passed an order dated 31.12.2014 concluding that the petitioner belongs to Bunts community which does not figure in the OBC list as notified by the Central Government and consequently, ordered cancellation of the caste certificate dated 25.06.2014. The petitioner thereafter filed W.P.No.3701/2015. This Court, in its order dated 09.11.2018 had noticed the contention of the learned AGA that in the State list, Nadava caste was schedule under Category 2A of the Backward Classes, while the Bunts caste is under Category 3B. This Court therefore held that declaration of synonyms is not in the domain of the Courts and it is for the appropriate authority to decide as to which caste the petitioner belongs to. However, on noticing that there were several documents produced at the hands of the petitioner to support her contention that her father also possessed a caste certificate of Nadava community and therefore, the petitioner also was entitled for claiming such caste status, this Court also noticed that such documents were not considered by the authority and the petitioner was not given an opportunity to participate in the enquiry, while the report was drawn visiting the residence of the ancestors of the petitioner etc. Consequently, the order dated 31.12.2014 passed by the District Caste Verification Committee was set aside and the matter was remitted to the Deputy Commissioner, Udupi District, to adjudicate the claim of the petitioner for issuance of caste certificate and/or restoration of the caste certificate dated 25.06.2014.

5. Learned Counsel for the petitioner submits that consequent to the directions issued by this Court in W.P.No.3701/2015, it appears that the Deputy Commissioner has secured a report from the Tahsildar, Brahmavara, and the Extension Officer of Backward Classes of the Taluk. It is clear from the report that the petitioners father had claimed the caste status of Nadava, in his school records. The neighbours in the Village had clearly stated that the family members of the petitioner were recognized with both castes i.e., Bunts and Nadava. It is submitted that although this information is available, the Deputy Commissioner has proceeded to hold that the petitioner belongs to Bunt community and not Nadava.

6. Heard the learned Counsels and perused the petition papers.

7. What is evident from the impugned order passed by the Deputy Commissioner is that there is no doubt that the petitioners father is recorded to be from Nadava community, in his school records. It is evident that the petitioners fathers sisters (both elder and younger), their children have claimed their caste as Nadava. The only aberration is that the petitioners fathers brother claimed that he belonged to Bunt community. Moreover, the neighbours of the ancestral home of the petitioner have clearly stated that the petitioners family is recognized by both names viz., Bunts and Nadava. What is more important is that when the Deputy Commissioner found from the report submitted by the Tahsildar that the caste status of the petitioners father, his siblings (except his brother) and their children was recorded as Nadava, there is no palpable reason furnished by the Deputy Commissioner, not to accept the claim of the petitioner. As mentioned earlier, except the petitioners fathers brother who had claimed the caste status of Bunt, all other relatives of the petitioner have claimed the status of Nadava. No information is forthcoming as to whether such claim by the other relatives, including that of the petitioners father was at any point of time withdrawn or cancelled.

8. On facts, it has to be noticed that the petitioner has successfully completed her Course in the respondent-Institution with high grades. Subsequently, she has secured an appointment in a prestigious Private Company. When the caste status of the petitioners father and his siblings and their children is recorded as Nadava and such status continues to be conferred on them, this Court sees no

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reason to deny the same caste status to the petitioner. 9. Consequently, this Court proceeds to pass the following: ORDER (i) The writ petitions are allowed. (ii) The impugned order dated 04.09.2020 passed by the Deputy Commissioner, Udupi, and the consequential Official Memorandum dated 05.11.2020 issued by the respondent-Institution are hereby quashed and set aside. (iii) The caste certificate dated 25.06.2014 issued by the respondent-Tahsildar, Brahmavara Taluk, Udupi, is restored in favour of the petitioner. (iv) Consequently, the respondent- Institution is directed to issue the Grade Cards and Degree Certificate to the petitioner. Ordered accordingly. 10. In view of disposal of the main petitions, I.A.No.1/2021, does not survive for consideration and is accordingly disposed of.