Monday, June 14, 2021
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HC respite for engineering student whose caste claim rejected midway

The Bombay high court has quashed and set aside an order of the Caste Scrutiny Committee of Maharashtra government which had invalidated the claim of a student, who was pursuing the final year in engineering, that he belonged to the Scheduled Tribe.

A bench, while setting aside the impugned order of September 24, 2010, recently remanded the matter back to the Caste Scrutiny Committee for reconsideration of the claim put by Swapnil Gaikwad, a resident of nearby Thane, that he belonged to Thakur caste, which comes under Scheduled Tribe.

The court opined that in this case, the scrutiny committee had not considered the documents and evidence and wrongly applied law on “affinity test issue, area restriction removal and caste certificates of relatives based on similar wrongly framed issues”. Hence, it was setting aside the order.

The court asked the scrutiny committee to reconsider every aspect, by giving an opportunity to all parties. Liberty was given to the student to apply before the committee for filing additional evidence, oral and documentary material.

Justices Anoop Mohota and A A Sayed asked the petitioner to appear before the concerned committee on June 10. Thereafter, the committee was asked to fix the date and schedule the hearing to dispose of the matter early, preferably within four months from the date of receipt of the judgement/order.

The court said that in case the committee passes an adverse order against the petitioner, the same should not be given effect to and/or acted upon for four weeks thereafter from the date of communication of the order.

In that event, the court held that the petitioner would be allowed to finish the engineering course. However, it will be subject to the final decision of the scrutiny committee and/or subsequent challenge, if any.

The judges also ruled that any interim protection granted earlier to the student would continue.

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