Ramachandra Menon , J.
1. Appeal is against the judgment dated 18.12.2018 in W.P.(C) No. 31786 of 2016 passed by the learned single Judge, whereby the respondents were set at liberty to conduct a proper enquiry by the competent authority, with regard to the caste status of the petitioner/appellant, in terms of the verdict passed by the Apex Court in Madhuri Patel Vs. Additional Commissioner, Tribal Development [AIR 1995 SC 94].
2. The appellant was working as a Head Constable in the Central Industrial Security Force [CISF for short]. The appointment was given, based on the Scheduled Caste status certified in this regard, projecting that the petitioner belonged to Hindu - Chakravar community, which was a notified scheduled caste.
3. According to the writ petitioner, the said appointment was under the general merit, and not based on any reservation provided to the Scheduled Caste [Hindu Chakravar] community. However, years after the appointment, in connection with promotion in service, the writ petitioner/appellant was asked to produce fresh caste certificate, upon which he submitted a fresh caste certificate, wherein the community status of the appellant was certified as 'OBC' [Other Backward Community]. This created some doubts in the minds of the authorities concerned, who sought for clarification. The position was clarified by District Collector, Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu to the effect that the community of the petitioner was only an 'OBC' and not Scheduled Caste. It was accordingly, that a charge sheet came to be issued in relation to the misconduct, which was enquired into and ultimately, Ext. P2 order was passed dismissing the petitioner from the service, based on the proven misconduct. Though the writ petitioner had filed an appeal by way of Ext. P5, the same came to be rejected as per Ext. P14 order, confirming the order of dismissal. The said orders were sought to be challenged by filing a writ petition before the learned single Judge.
4. After hearing both the sides, the learned single Judge observed that the enquiry into the 'caste status' had to be conducted in conformity with the law declared by the Apex Court in Madhuri Patel's case [cited supra]. The procedure to be pursued was also to be in conformity with Ext. P12 Government Order issued in this regard. On going through the materials on record, it was found that the enquiry conducted was not in conformity with the above stipulations, in so far as the action taken was merely based on the report of the 'District Collector' [who reported that the petitioner did not belong to any Scheduled Caste]. The learned single Judge observed that the competent authority to conduct an enquiry into the 'caste status' in Tamil Nadu was the District Level Vigilance Committee and that admittedly since no enquiry by such Committee was conducted [but for the report from the District Collector, who was held as not the competent authority] the order of removal from service [relying on the conclusion arrived at on the basis of the report of the District Collector] was held as not correct or sustainable. It was accordingly, that Exts. P2 and P14 orders were set aside, however, making it clear that the respondents would be free to proceed with the enquiry, in accordance with the law laid down in Madhuri Patel's case [cited supra]. Taking note of the fact that the writ petitioner had already retired from service, the proceedings were directed to be completed as expeditiously as possible.
5. The appellant/writ petitioner is aggrieved only in respect of the direction given by the learned single Judge, granting liberty to proceed with the enquiry. The contention now put forth is that, having set aside the orders under challenge, the learned Judge ought to have ordered reinstatement and that the order passed by granting liberty to proceed with the enquiry by the competent authority is not correct or sustainable.
6. In this context, it may be relevant to note that the dispute involved in the present case stands slightly on a different pedestal. Even according to the writ petitioner/appellant, he belongs to a community by name 'Hindu Chakravar', which initially was certified by the authority concerned as a 'Scheduled Caste' community, at the time of getting appointment. Years later, another certificate was produced by the petitioner himself, in connection with his promotion, to the effect that he belonged to OBC. It was in the said circumstances, that the matter was sought to be clarified from the authorities in Tamil Nadu, as the writ petitioner/appellant was working in Triruvanathapuram at that point of time.
7. The factual particulars with regard to the particular caste, claimed by the petitioner [Hindu - Chakravar] was verified by the District Collector, who himself was the Chairman of the District Level Vigilance Committee. It was reported that 'Hindu - Chakravar' community was never included as a 'Scheduled Caste' but was only an Other Backward Community. The law declared by the Supreme Court [cited supra] is in respect of a case, where the scheduled caste community status claim is disputed by the competent authority. In the instant case, we find that the particular caste [Hindu - Chakravar], to which the petitioner/appellant belongs, was never disputed by the respondents. The dispute was only whether the said caste was actually a 'Scheduled Caste' or whether it was only an 'Other Backward Caste' [OBC]. This being the position, in view of the certificates produced by the petitioner himself, the extent of dispute was only very limited. The said matter could have been verified by the District Collector, who happens to be the Chairman of the District Level Vigilance Committee, by referring to the relevant gazette notification issued in this regard. It might be on the basis of such verification, that the District Collector sent a report pointing out that the particular community i.e. Hindhu - Chakravar, to which the petitioner admittedly belonged, was not a Scheduled Caste, but an OBC. In view of the said factual aspect [which cannot be disputed by anybody, by virtue of the enlistment in the schedule notified and published in the gazette, the course sought to be pursued as ordered in Madhuri Patel's case [cited supra] was not relevant to be followed in th
Please Login To View The Full Judgment!
e instant case. We, however, do not intend to express anything further in this regard, as the learned Central Government Counsel submits that they have already given effect to the judgment passed by the learned single Judge by conducting a proper enquiry by the competent authority i.e. District Level Vigilance Committee. All the relevant factual and legal aspects could be looked into by the said Committee and arrive at a proper decision. The fate of the appellant/writ petitioner will stand governed by the outcome of such enquiry. Since the appellant/writ petitioner is aged more than 66 years as on date no question of reinstatement arises. Interference is declined and the Appeal stands dismissed.