NEW DELHI: Repeated inquiries for verification of caste certificates would be detrimental to the members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the Supreme Court said on Thursday.
A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose made the observation while setting aside an order passed by the Chennai District Vigilance Committee cancelling the community certificate of a person.
“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 Scheduled Tribes,” the bench said.
The top court said the reopening of inquiry into caste certificates can be only in the case if they are vitiated by fraud or when they were issued without proper inquiry.
Referring to its earlier decisions, the apex court said the Scrutiny Committee is an administrative body that verifies the facts and investigates claims of caste status and its orders are open to challenge in proceedings under Article 226 ( power of judicial review )of the Constitution.
The bench said that the verification of caste certificates issued without prior inquiry would be verified by the Scrutiny Committees.
Such caste certificates which were issued after due and proper inquiry need not to be verified by the Scrutiny Committees, it said.
The bench noted that in the instant case, an inquiry was conducted by the District Level Vigilance Committee which has upheld the community certificate issued in favour of the person.
The top court said that the decision of the District Level Vigilance Committee in the year 1999 has not been challenged in any forum and the recognition of the community certificate issued in her favour 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.