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Home > Mumbai > Mumbai News > Article > Bombay HC Caste scrutiny panel cannot reopen past caste certificate decisions

Bombay HC: Caste scrutiny panel cannot reopen past caste certificate decisions

Updated on: 24 November,2023 02:04 PM IST  |  Mumbai
mid-day online correspondent |

Bombay HC ruled that State Caste Scrutiny Committee can't review its own records, reconsider its previous rulings, or revoke granted caste validity certificates independently.

Bombay HC: Caste scrutiny panel cannot reopen past caste certificate decisions

Bombay High Court/ File Photo

The State Caste Scrutiny Committee is not empowered to independently review its own records, reconsider its previous rulings, or revoke caste validity certificates that have already been granted, according to the Bombay High Court's ruling. A PTI report stated that the High Court stressed that the committee does not have the authority to review its own decisions in an order dated November 1, which was made public on Friday. The court claimed that giving the committee this inherent authority would result in a great deal of uncertainty and arbitrary actions.

The division bench comprising Justices GS Kulkarni and Jitendra Jain stated that the committee's unbridled power to reopen cases that have already been resolved would lead to arbitrariness and unfavourable outcomes. Ten petitions from government workers contesting the committee's suo motu rulings from the previous year—which nullified caste certificates they had received between 1992 and 2005—were the basis for the court's ruling. These workers belonged to the Koli Mahadeo, Thakur, and Thakar groups, which are Scheduled Tribes.

"There cannot be a free hand or license to the Caste Scrutiny Committee to reopen concluded cases of validity being conferred by it by its earlier orders to be revisited or re-examined on a complaint or otherwise and review its orders," the HC was quoted as saying. 

The High Court dismissed the idea of the committee independently reviewing or reexamining closed cases, emphasising that a caste certificate could only be challenged upon the court's prima facie satisfaction. The bench emphasised that giving the committee the authority to examine its own orders would lead to unrestricted, subjective opinions that have no time constraints, which would have serious consequences.

As a result, the committee's orders from the previous year were overturned by the court, invalidating the caste certificates that were given to the ten petitioners. This confirmed that the committee did not have the authority to independently review historical records and revoke caste validity certificates because it is a statutory body with quasi-adjudicatory functions.

"Thus, in our opinion, the Caste Scrutiny Committee, being a statutory body exercising quasi-adjudicatory functions, would not have any jurisdiction to suo motu verify past records and initiate an action to reopen past decisions and invalidate the caste validity certificates already granted," the HC said.

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