Reservation policy is matter of pride, cannot be exploited: Madras High Court

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A retired government employee had challenged cancellation of bogus community certificate issued to him in 1980. 

The Madras High Court recently observed that the communal reservation policy is a matter of pride for the diversity of country and any exploitation or misuse of it even if detected late cannot be a justification for such misuse.

The bench of Justices V.M. Velumani and R. Hemalatha observed so while dismissing a writ petition filed by a retired government employee challenging an order passed by a State-level scrutiny committee. The committee had cancelled the Scheduled Tribe community certificate issued to the petitioner.

R. Balasundaram- the petitioner had been issued an ST community certificate by a Tahsildar in 1980. In 1982, he joined service as a Khalasi at the Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding in Coimbatore on the basis of the said certificate. He was also promoted twice in 1999 and 2020 respectively.

However, in 2014 his employer began doubting his credentials. Subsequently, proceedings were initiated against him in 2017 by a State-level scrutiny committee which referred the matter to the vigilance cell in 2018.

In May 2018, the vigilance cell submitted a report stating that the petitioner does not belong to a Scheduled Tribe. It was held that the community certificate issued to him was bogus. 

Despite the vigilance cell's report and the pending inquiry before the State-level scrutiny committee, the petitioner got promoted in September 2020.

Thereafter, the petitioner attained the age of superannuation on November 11, 2021 however he was paid only a provisional pension. His terminal benefits were also not released.

Subsequently, the community certificate of the petitioner was cancelled and in January 2022 his provisional pension was also stopped.

The petitioner moved the high court assailing the order of the State-level scrutiny committee.

The petitioner argued that as per the guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension, verification of ST community certificates is permitted only for the certificates issued only after 1995, therefore, cancellation of his certificate after four decades had no legal sanctity.

The court rejected the argument put forth and opined that the present matter was one of the many instances of the alleged bogus community certificate based on which the employment in Government sector was obtained. "This Court is flooded with such petitions and counter claims," Court stated.

Court also took note of the fact that though the original community certificate issued to the petitioner was in the year 1980, it was until 2014, his employer presumably did not have any doubt or problem with the community certificate submitted by him.

However, court underscored that the State Level Scrutiny Committee had not only relied on the Vigilance Officer's Report alone, but the anthropologist's report was also found to be in tune with the findings of the Vigilance Report.

Court highlighted that the vigilance report revealed that the brother and the daughter of the petitioner belong to a different community i.e. Reddy community (Ganjam) while the petitioner alone belongs to Konda Reddy community. 

"Such discrepancies are glaring and go against the claim of the petitioner," Court held.

Therefore, finding no reason to sit in the judgment of the Vigilance Committee and State Level Scrutiny Committee, court dismissed the present writ petition.

The court stated,

“It is true that there were no scientific methods to determine the caste or community of any citizen of India till a few decades back. But now with the system in place covering all the aspects and facts to go into the genuineness of anyone’s claim of belonging to SC/ST, nothing much can be alleged against committees which are intended to weed out unscrupulous elements who misuse the provisions of the Constitution".