'Broad parameters could be kept in view in considering the caste claims'
ST claim must be confirmed from anthro data: SC
New Delhi, Nov 8,(PTI):
A person's claim to Scheduled Tribe (ST) category will have to be
decided on the basis of genuineness of supporting documents and
anthropological traits, in order to grant educational and job
benefits, the Supreme Court has said.
A bench of Justices D K Jain and A K Ganguly said, even though no
absolute rule for testing the caste claim can be made, preference
could be given to pre-independence documents as well as an affinity
test to verify the claim.
"The genuineness of a caste claim has to be considered not only on a
thorough examination of the documents submitted in support of the
claim but also an affinity test, which would include anthropological
and ethnological traits etc., of the applicant. However, it is neither
feasible nor desirable to lay down an absolute rule, which could be
applied mechanically to examine a caste claim," the court said.
Nevertheless, the bench said some broad parameters could be kept in
view in considering the caste claims.
"While dealing with documentary evidence, greater reliance may be
placed on pre- Independence documents because they furnish a higher
degree of probative value to the declaration of status of a caste, as
compared to post-Independence documents."
The bench also said that using the affinity test, which included
focusing on the ethnological connections with the scheduled tribe, a
cautious approach has to be adopted.
"A few decades ago, when the tribes were somewhat immune to the
cultural development happening around them, the affinity test could
serve as a determinative factor. However, with migrations,
modernisation and contact with other communities, these communities
tend to develop and adopt new traits, which may not essentially match
with the traditional characteristics of the tribe," the bench said.
The apex court streamlined the parameters while allowing an appeal
filed by Anand, a probationary field officer of Maharashtra Pollution
Control Board, against the state government's decision to terminate
his services on the ground that his tribal status was not valid.
The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court had in 2004 affirmed the
order passed by the Committee for Scrutiny and Verification of Tribe
Claims, Amravati cancelling the caste certificate issued to him by the
Sub-Divisional Magistrate in district Yavatmal, certifying him to be
belonging to 'Halbi' Scheduled tribe, notified in terms of the
Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950.
After examining, the apex court referred the matter back to the caste
scrutiny committee for fresh consideration.
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