J.Chitra vs District Collector on 2 September, 2021


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Supreme Court of India

J.Chitra vs District Collector on 2 September, 2021

Author: L. Nageswara Rao

Bench: [ A ], [ L ]

                                                Non-Reportable

            IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
             CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

              Civil Appeal No. 5160 of 2010


J. Chitra                                     ... Appellant

                             Versus

District Collector and Chairman
State Level Vigilance Committee,
Tamil Nadu & Ors.                           …. Respondents




                       J U D GE M E N T



L. NAGESWARA RAO, J.

1. A Writ Petition was filed by the Appellant challenging

the order dated 09.04.2008 passed by the Chennai District

Vigilance Committee cancelling the community certificate.

The Writ Petition was dismissed by the High Court of Madras

by a judgment dated 22.12.2008, aggrieved by which this

Appeal is filed. The Tahsildar, Mylapore-Triplicane, Chennai

issued a community certificate showing the Appellant to be

from Valluvan community on 28.08.1982 when she was

studying in tenth class. At the time of joining service in the

Office of Accountant General, the Appellant applied for a

community certificate. Tahsildar, Mylapore-Triplicane,

Chennai issued a community certificate on 12.07.1985 which
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was submitted by the Appellant after joining the service on

17.07.1985. A complaint was preferred by Dr. Ambedkar

Service Association in the Office of the Accountant General

raising doubts about the community certificate produced by

the Appellant at the time of joining service. The Appellant

was directed to attend an inquiry to be conducted by the

Collector regarding the genuineness of the community

certificate. A notice was issued by the District Collector,

Chennai on 27.05.1998 directing the Appellant to show-cause

as to why her community certificate should not be cancelled.

The District Collector directed the Revenue Divisional Officer

to conduct an inquiry. An inquiry was conducted by the

District Vigilance Committee. After conducting an inquiry,

the District Vigilance Committee expressed its view that the

Appellant belongs to Valluvan community which is a

Scheduled Caste.

2. On 27.01.2000, the service of the Appellant as Section

Officer was regularized. The Appellant was promoted as

Assistant Accounts Officer on 31.12.2001. In the meanwhile,

Dr. Ambedkar Service Association submitted another

representation that suitable action should be taken against

the Appellant for securing employment as reserved category

candidate on the basis of a false caste certificate. The State

Level Scrutiny Committee informed the Appellant that a

complaint was received from Dr. Ambedkar Service

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Association and directed the Appellant to be present for

inquiry to be conducted on 24.03.2003. Responding to the

notice, the Appellant attended the inquiry before the State

Level Scrutiny Committee. In the meanwhile, the District

Vigilance Committees were reconstituted by the Government

of Tamil Nadu vide G.O. Ms. 111, Adi Dravidar and Tribal

Welfare (ADW-10) Department dated 06.07.2005. The State

Level Scrutiny Committee remanded the inquiry pertaining to

the community certificate of the Appellant to the District

Vigilance Committee on 04.01.2006. The functions of the

District Vigilance Committees and State Vigilance

Committees as well as the procedure to conduct an inquiry

were enumerated by G.O. (2D) No.: 108, Adi Dravidar and

Tribal Welfare (CV-I) Department dated 12.09.2007. The

Appellant was directed to appear before the District Vigilance

Committee pursuant to which the Appellant as well as her

mother attended the inquiry and submitted relevant

documents before the District Vigilance Committee. On

09.04.2008, an order was passed by the District Vigilance

Committee cancelling community certificate of the Appellant.

Assailing the legality and validity of the order dated

09.04.2008, the Appellant filed a Writ Petition in the High

Court of Madras which was dismissed by a judgment dated

22.12.2008. Ergo, this Appeal.

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3. Mr. K. Ramamoorthy, learned Senior Counsel appearing

for the Appellant submitted that the community certificate

issued in favour of the Appellant was subject matter of an

inquiry by the District Vigilance Committee in the year 1999.

Thereafter, the State Level Scrutiny Committee did not have

jurisdiction to remand the matter to the District Vigilance

Committee for a fresh inquiry into the genuineness of the

claim of the Appellant that she belongs to Scheduled Castes.

The decision of the District Vigilance Committee on

31.12.1999 upholding the claim of the Appellant that she

belongs to Valluvan Community remains unchallenged. Mr.

K. Ramamoorthy argued that community certificates which

have become final cannot be reopened as held by this Court

in Kumari Madhuri Patil & Anr. v. Addl. Commissioner,

Tribal Development & Ors.1 and Dayaram v. Sudhir

Batham & Ors.2 He relied upon the memorandum of family

settlement dated 01.11.1932 and the sale deed dated

05.10.1978 executed by Abdul Masjid Rawoother in favour of

father of the Appellant which clearly show that the Appellant

belongs to Scheduled Caste. He referred to G.O. (2D)

No.:108 dated 12.09.2007 to state that the dispute relating

to the community certificate issued in favour of the Appellant

cannot be remitted by the State Level Scrutiny Committee to

the District Level Vigilance Committee for reconsideration.

1 (1994) 6 SCC 241
2 (2012) 1 SCC 333
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The learned Senior Counsel for the Appellant contended that

the order dated 09.04.2008 deserves to be set aside as the

evidence recorded by the District Vigilance Committee are

contrary to the findings arrived at by the District Vigilance

Committee in the year 1999.

4. Mr. Pulkit Tare, learned counsel appearing for the State

submitted that District Vigilance Committees for verification

of community certificates issued to a Scheduled Caste/

Scheduled Tribe were reconstituted by G.O. (Ms) No.111, Adi

Dravidar and Tribal Welfare dated 6.7.2005. Pursuant to the

judgment of this Court in Kumari Madhuri Patil (supra), the

Government constituted District Level Vigilance Committees

at District Level and State Level Scrutiny Committee at State

Level to verify genuineness of the community certificates

issued to Schedule Castes/ Scheduled Tribes. After the

reconstitution of District Level Vigilance Committees on

06.07.2005, the Government issued guidelines by G.O. 108

on 12.09.2007 for the functions of the District and State

Level Scrutiny Committees relating to verification on the

genuineness of the community service. The learned counsel

for the State submitted that the remand by the State Level

Scrutiny Committee to the District Vigilance Committee for a

fresh inquiry into the community certificate of the Appellant

was in accordance with the guidelines issued by the

Government by G.O.108 dated 12.09.2007. It was further

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contended on behalf of the State that the District Vigilance

Committee conducted a detailed inquiry to come to a

conclusion that the Appellant does not belong to a Scheduled

Caste.

5. Realizing the pernicious practice of false caste

certificates being utilized for the purpose of securing

admission to educational institutions and public employment

depriving genuine candidates of the benefits of reservation,

this Court in Kumari Madhuri Patil (supra) issued the

following directions :

“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

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into educational institution or an appointment to a
post.

4. All the State Governments shall constitute a
Committee of three officers, namely, (I) an Additional
or Joint Secretary or any officer high-er in rank of the
Director of the department concerned, (II) 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
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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

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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-à-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.

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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.

13. The High Court would dispose of these cases
as expeditiously as possible within a period of three
months. In case, as per its procedure, the writ
petition/miscellaneous petition/matter is disposed of
by a Single Judge, then no further appeal would lie
against that order to the Division Bench but subject
to special leave under Article 136.

14. In case, the certificate obtained or social
status claimed is found to be false, the
parent/guardian/the candidate should be prosecuted
for making false claim. If the prosecution ends in a
conviction and sentence of the accused, it could be
regarded as an offence involving moral turpitude,
disqualification for elective posts or offices under the
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State or the Union or elections to any local body,
legislature or Parliament.

15. As soon as the finding is recorded by the
Scrutiny Committee holding that the certificate
obtained was false, on its cancellation and
confiscation simultaneously, it should be
communicated to the educational institution
concerned or the appointing authority by registered
post with acknowledgement due with a request to
cancel the admission or the appointment. The
Principal etc. of the educational institution
responsible for making the admission or the
appointing authority, should cancel the
admission/appointment without any further notice to
the candidate and debar the candidate from further
study or continue in office in a post.”

6. In Dayaram (supra), this Court was of the view that

the Scrutiny Committee is an administrative body which

verifies the facts and investigates into claims of caste status.

The orders of the Scrutiny Committee are open to challenge

in proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

It was further held by this Court that permitting civil suits

with provisions for appeals and further appeals would defeat

the very scheme and will encourage the very evils which this

Court wanted to eradicate. It was observed that the entire

scheme in Kumari Madhuri Patil (supra) will only continue

till the legislature concerned makes an appropriate

legislation in regard to verification of claims for caste status

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as SC/ST. It was made clear that verification of caste

certificates issued without prior inquiry would be verified by

the Scrutiny Committees. Such of those caste certificates

which were issued after due and proper inquiry need not to

be verified by the Scrutiny Committees.

7. District Vigilance Committees for verification of

community certificates issued to Scheduled Castes/

Scheduled Tribes were reconstituted on 06.07.2005 pursuant

to the judgment of this Court in Kumari Madhuri Patil

(supra). G.O. 108 dated 12.09.2007 contains guidelines

issued by the Government of Tamil Nadu for the functioning

of the District and State Level Vigilance Committees. The

guidelines issued by the Government in G.O. 108 of

12.09.2007 are as follows:

1. In cases which were remitted to the three-member

District Level Vigilance Committee by the State Level

Scrutiny Committee as per the Court directions before

12.09.2007, the decision of the District Vigilance

Committee reconstituted by G.O. 111 dated 06.07.2005

regarding the genuineness of community certificate of

Scheduled Tribes is final.

2. In case of community certificate issued by the Deputy

Tahsildar/ Tahsildar has been found to be not genuine

by the three-member District Vigilance Committee and

an individual has filed an Appeal to the State Level

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Scrutiny Committee, the individual shall be directed to

approach the High Court by filing a Writ Petition.

3. If appeals are filed against orders passed by the two-

member District Level Vigilance Committee to the State

Level Scrutiny Committee and were not remitted back

to the reconstituted three-member Scrutiny Committee

by the Government, in view of pendency of Writ

Petitions before the Court, the State Level Scrutiny

Committee shall conduct an inquiry.

8. In the instant case, an inquiry was conducted by the

District Level Vigilance Committee which has upheld the

community certificate in favour of the Appellant. The

decision of the District Level Vigilance Committee in the year

1999 has not been challenged in any forum. The recognition

of the community certificate issued in favour of the Appellant

by the District Vigilance Committee having become final, the

State Level Scrutiny Committee did not have jurisdiction to

reopen the matter and remand for fresh consideration by the

District Level Vigilance Committee. The guidelines issued by

G.O.108 dated 12.09.2007 do not permit the State Level

Scrutiny Committee to reopen cases which have become

final. The purpose of verification of caste certificates by

Scrutiny Committees is to avoid false and bogus claims.

Repeated inquiries for verification of caste certificates would

be detrimental to the members of Scheduled Castes and

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Scheduled Tribes. Reopening of inquiry into caste certificates

can be only in case they are vitiated by fraud or when they

were issued without proper inquiry.

9. The District Level Vigilance Committee cancelled the

community certificate issued in favour of the Appellant after

conducting an inquiry and coming to a conclusion that she

belongs to Kailolan community and not to Valluvan

community which is a Scheduled Caste. In view of the

conclusion that the State Level Scrutiny Committee did not

have the power to reopen the matter relating to the caste

certificate that was approved by the District Vigilance

Committee in the year 1999 without any Appeal filed against

that order, it is not necessary for us to deal with the

submissions made on behalf of the Appellant relating to the

correctness of the findings recorded by the District Vigilance

Committee in the year 09.04.2008.

For the foregoing reasons, the order dated 09.04.2008

is set aside and the Appeal is allowed.

……………………………….J.
[ L. NAGESWARA RAO ]

……………………………….J
[ ANIRUDDHA BOSE ]

New Delhi,
September 02, 2021.

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