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HC allows barred 56 OBC candidates to contest polls

The Bombay High Court has set aside a Government Resolution which barred 56 OBC candidates in the state from contesting elections because they submitted their caste certificates late even though the law does not lay down any deadline for submitting the same. The court has now ordered that the nomination forms of these candidates should be accepted.

On Wednesday, a bench of Justice S A Bobde and Justice Mridula Bhatkar disposed of the petition filed by Andheri-based advocate Yogini Gurav, who had approached the court seeking relief against the GR. The bench was following an earlier order passed on January 13 in similar cases.

Over the last week, in all, 10 such petitions from 56 candidates belonging to various political parties including the Congress and the NCP were disposed of in a similar manner.

Latecomers?
Last year, the Social Justice Department issued guidelines directing the collectors and caste scrutiny committees across Maharashtra to accept the applications of poll aspirants along with their caste certificates by October 5, 2011. This date was later extended to November 21, 2011.

According to Gurav's petition, she was to contest on an NCP ticket in Ward 58, which is reserved for backward class women. After the election schedule was announced on January 3, she approached the collector to have her caste claim validated. But she was turned away after being told that she had missed the last date for these procedures by two months. Candidates Firoj Shiraj Sheikh, Parshuram Sangolkar, Anjana Sutar and Sandipan Waghmare, from zillas outside Mumbai, also faced a situation similar to Gurav's.

Advocate Amit Sale, who appeared on behalf of bereaved candidates like Gurav, said, "The election programme itself was declared on January 3, 2012. It is only after the programme is officially announced that the planning for who will contest begins by parties."

He pointed out that though the Municipal Corporation Act does not specify when the caste certificate is to be submitted, it does say that a candidate can only contest an election after the caste certificate is validated.

"The act was amended only last year to provide 50% reservation for women, half of which is reserved for backward class women. Many women are filing nominations under this category for the first time and they are the one who are the hardest hit," Sale said.

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