Observing that the Muslim community has no practice of mentioning their caste, the Bombay High Court recently granted relief to a 42-year-old woman, and declared her as belonging to the Momin caste under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category.
A bench of Justices Shahrukh Kathawalla and Vinay Joshi was moved by Aasiya Gavandi, a resident of Kolhapur. She challenged the orders of the district caste scrutiny committee that rejected her claim of belonging to the Momin caste on the ground that she failed to produce any documents prior to 1967.
The lady through her counsel Sourabh Oka said that she had contested the Gram Panchayat polls in September 2018 and had then undertook to submit her caste validity certificate. She pointed out that the committee rejected her claim despite submitting all the relevant documents, which were held as genuine by a local vigilance committee that had held a local enquiry as per the law.
However, as per Oka, the scrutiny committee rejected his client's claim solely on the ground that she did not have documents prior to October 13, 1967. He further pointed out that his client had submitted other relevant documents like the school leaving certificates etc.
Oka also relied upon the local vigilance committee's report which concluded that his client belonged to the Momin caste, which practices the profession of weaving.
The committee on the other hand, stood by its opinion that Aasiya's claim cannot be validated since she hasn't submitted the documents before 1967.
Having heard the contentions, the bench said, "Admittedly, there are no pre-constitutional documents nor documents preceding to the year 1967 which records caste of Aasiya's forefathers as Muslim Momin. However, she has produced several documents in support of her caste claim."
"It is pertinent to note that in Muslim community there is no practice of mentioning caste, and therefore, it is unrealistic to insist on old documents of showing Momin caste," the bench held while declaring Aasiya to be belonging to Memon caste.