Bombay High Court lets girl seek certificate based on her mother’s caste

Mumbai: In a significant ruling, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court allowed a girl student to seek a certificate in the name of her mother’s caste and not of her father’s. The HC ruled that aspirants can choose their mother’s caste while applying for a caste certificate.

A bench of Justices Sunil Shukre and Shreeram Modak slammed the district caste scrutiny committee of Amravati for denying a caste certificate to the girl, who claimed to be belonging to her mother’s caste.

The bench considered the fact the girl was raised by a single mother and she has adopted her mother’s caste, and not of her now estranged father’s.

The bench was seized with a plea by a girl, whom the judges called to be belonging to a ‘distressed family’ headed by a single mother. According to the petition, the girl’s mother and father got married in August 1996 and separated in 2003.

“Well before that, the mother had left her matrimonial house and had started residing in her parental house. Since then, the girl has been looked after, raised and educated by her mother in the background provided by her parental community,” the judges noted.

The girl’s plea stated she had no concern with father and has imbibed the values, practices, customs and traditions of the community to which her mother belonged.

The judges said though her parents belonged to different castes and their marriage did not work out well, there was no ‘cultural’ impact on the girl.

“Rather, she was raised in an atmosphere dominated by the customs and traditions of the community to which her mother belonged. It was, therefore, natural for the girl to start claiming the social status, which was professed by her mother,” the bench noted.

The girl accordingly urged the district caste committee to certify her as a person belonging to the caste, which her mother belongs to. However, the committee rejected her application, following which, she petitioned Justice Shukre’s bench.

Having considered the contentions, the judges said, “We find that the authority has not only adopted a fundamentally flawed approach in the present case but have also gone into the merits of the claim which was not permissible.

It has taken upon itself the task of examining the validity of the social status as claimed by the girl,” the bench said.

The bench further said, “In the given case it is permissible for a candidate or a student to claim the caste or tribe of one of her parents when the marriage is between the non-tribal and tribal or open category spouse and reserved category spouse.

All that it is required to be done by the concerned authority, in such a case, is to consider the genuineness of the claim on the basis of documents submitted to it and nothing more.”

The bench accordingly remitted the matter again to the district committee with a directive to reconsider the girl’s plea.