At, In the High Court of Bombay at Nagpur
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE B.P. DHARMADHIKARI & THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE Z.A. HAQ
For the Petitioners: S.P. Kshirsagar, Advocate. For the Respondent: A.M.Kadukar, A.G.P.
Oral Judgment: (B.P. Dharmadhikari, J.)
2. The order of Scrutiny Committee dated 10/06/2002 invalidating caste claim of the petitioners is questioned before this Court. This Court has admitted the matter for final hearing, however, interim relief is refused by it on 3rd December, 2003.
3. The Scrutiny Committee has invalidated the caste claim of the petitioners on the ground that Halbi shown as caste in own documents could not be determinative of Halbi Scheduled Tribe status as in some part of Vidarbha, in old records, subcaste Halbi of caste Koshti is also recorded as Halbi and that caste is popularly known as 'Halbi Koshti'. The Committee has applied a
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ffinity and even on affinity, caste claim has been negated. During police vigilance the committee came across certain entries and noted that there caste was recorded either as Halba Koshti or Koshti. Because of this material deviation it invalidated the caste claim.
4. Advocate Shri Kshirsagar has relied upon the Division Bench judgment of this Court dated 7th March, 2002 in Writ Petition No. 539 of 2002 (Harischandra Tukaram Balsaraf Vs. State of Maharashtra & Ors.) and in the matter of Pravin vs. State of Mah., reported in 2010 (2) Mh.L.J. 960 to urge that such an inquiry and finding is not open. He contends that the moment old documents recording caste as Halbi were produced, the Committee could not have proceeded to examine whether Halbi caste mentioned therein is included as Scheduled Tribe or not. He has also submitted that documents relied upon to hold that there are Koshti entries are not of relatives and hence, could not have been used to the detriment of the petitioners. He has taken us through the order of the Scrutiny Committee and the documents produced on record to show how in other documents which are pre-constitutional, caste is recorded as Halbi. He submits that when those documents are found to be genuine, the committee ought to have been given validity.
5. The learned A.G.P. has submitted that after vigilance cell came across Koshti documents, the petitioners were given opportunity to explain the same and the petitioners have not denied the relationship in written reply filed before the Scrutiny Committee. It is further submitted that even before this Court the relationship has not been specifically denied.
6. A.G.P. Shri Kadukar also contends that when there is no plea that there is intercaste marriage in the family, documents on maternal side looked into by the Scrutiny Committee cannot be disbelieved and finding based upon it cannot be disturbed. He further points out that in the impugned order, the Scrutiny Committee has in comments on the points raised by the petitioners in paragraph (d) noted existence of Halbi Koshti community. According to him, the petitioners have not disputed such existence and hence, the Committee is right in looking into Koshti documents and applying affinity. He, therefore, prays for dismissal of the petition.
7. In brief reply, Advocate Shri Kshirsagar submits that in Writ Petition in paragraph Nos. 4 and 5 the averments which deny relationship are appearing. He further invites attention to sub-rule (3) of Rule 3 read with Rule 2(f) of the Maharashtra Scheduled Tribes (Regulation of Issuance and Verification of) Certificate Rules, 2003 to buttress his contention that for the purpose of such verification, the relatives envisage only paternal side relations. Hence, the reference to relatives of mother is without jurisdiction.
8. We find that the Scrutiny Committee has in its order in a chart prepared after documents of the petitioners pointed out four documents in which caste has been recorded as 'Halba Koshti' or 'Koshti'. First document is of Rambhau Pandurangji Kohad. In that document on 3rd July, 1963 caste is recorded as 'Halba Koshti'. Other document is of Ramesh Ganpatrao Kohad where on 8th July, 1972 caste is recorded as 'Halba Koshti'. Third document is of Kailash Mahadeorao Kohad where on 9th July, 1956 caste is recorded as 'Koshti' and last document is of Sukhadeo Shankarrao Kohad where on 7th July, 1964 caste is recorded as 'Halba Koshti'. Vigilance Report mentioning these documents and caste was duly served upon the petitioners and the petitioners have replied to it. In this reply dated 25/05/2002, the petitioners have not denied relationship with these persons. The contention of the petitioners before us is only because word 'relatives' has been employed against these persons, specific averment in that respect is missing. In the said reply to Vigilance Cell, the petitioners have blamed Vigilance Cell for collecting information from his mother and not from paternal side. They mentioned that at the relevant time mother was only 40 years of age and residing in Amravati. Thereafter he has mentioned that in Vigilance Cell report reference has been made to four documents of Kohad family. In this sentence after mentioning Kohad family the petitioners have written ('not Warudkar Family') and thereafter submitted that mention of caste as Halbi Koshti in Kohad family documents cannot be used to adjudicate petitioner's caste claim. The petitioners have not submitted that Kohad family is in noway related to them. The Vigilance Cell pointed out to them that these four persons from Kohad family happened to be their relatives. The petitioners did not dispute this statement of fact.
9. Before this Court, in paragraph 5 the petitioners have submitted that Police Vigilance Cell report was not in respect of the family members of the petitioners. Again the petitioners have not submitted specifically that Kohad family is not related to them.
10. The finding of the Scrutiny Committee that a community by name Halbi Koshti exists has not been disputed by the petitioners. The petitioners in paragraph 6 of the petition have contended that effort made by the committee in gathering caste as Halbi Koshti is without jurisdiction. The Scrutiny Committee found that Halbi Koshti caste is recorded as Halbi in more documents. This finding is not demonstrated to be perverse. Thus, when a caste and tribe having similar name are available, the Committee has taken recourse to affinity and recorded a finding that affinity test is not satisfied by the petitioners. The fact that the relatives of the petitioners belong to 'Halba Koshti' caste or 'Koshti' caste is also used for supporting this finding.
11. The judgments on which the petitioners have placed reliance do not consider issue of availability of a caste and a tribe with same name. It is matter of record that in the State of Maharashtra after 15/06/1995, Halba Koshti community or Halbi Koshti community has been recognized as Special Backward Class, it is therefore, not a Scheduled Tribe.
12. In this situation, taking overall view of the matter, we do not find any jurisdictional error or perversity in the approach of the Scrutiny Committee. No case is made out. The petition is dismissed. No costs.