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caste =whether “Namdeo Shimpi” caste is a sub-caste within the meaning of Entry 153 (Shimpi) in the Government Notification notifying list of Other Backward Classes (OBC) relating to the State of Maharashtra, even though it is not specifically mentioned as such? =the appellant does not belong to caste `Shimpi’ (OBC) and belongs to `Namdeo Shimpi’ caste which is not OBC in the State of Maharashtra.

REPORTABLE

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 10465 OF 2011

(Arising out of SLP (C) No. 34229 of 2010

Bharati Balkrishna Dhongade …. Appellant (s)

Versus

State of Maharashtra & Ors …. Respondent(s)

J U D G M E N T
P. Sathasivam, J.
1) Leave granted.

2) The principal question which arose for consideration in

this appeal is whether “Namdeo Shimpi” caste is a sub-caste

within the meaning of Entry 153 (Shimpi) in the Government

Notification notifying list of Other Backward Classes (OBC)

relating to the State of Maharashtra, even though it is not

specifically mentioned as such?

1
3) This appeal is filed against the final judgment and order

dated 21.10.2010 passed by the High Court of Judicature at

Bombay in Writ Petition No. 5772 of 2009 whereby the

Division Bench of the High Court dismissed the writ petition

filed by the appellant herein.
4) Brief Facts:
(a) On 18.01.1997, the Additional District Deputy Collector,

Mumbai Suburban District, Mumbai issued a Caste Certificate

to the appellant herein certifying that she belongs to Hindu

Shimpi Caste which is recognized as Other Backward Class

(Sr. No. 153) under Government Resolution No. CBC 1467/M

dated 13.10.1967, Education and Social Welfare Department

and as amended from time to time. In the year 2007, the

appellant herein along with Mrs Safia Parveen Abdul Munaf-

Respondent No. 6 contested the elections of Municipal

Corporation of Greater Mumbai from Ward No. 62 reserved for

women candidate belonging to the other backward classes and

the appellant won the election. As per the policy of the State

Election Commission, the Caste Certificate of the appellant

2
herein was sent to the Scrutiny Committee to scrutinize the

caste claimed and issue of validity certificate.

(b) After the elections, Respondent No. 6 forwarded a

complaint to the Caste Scrutiny Committee (in short `the

Committee’) alleging that the appellant’s claim of belonging to

caste “Hindu Shimpi” was not proper. The appellant herein

also submitted the documents in support of her claim. By

order dated 20.04.2007, the Committee certified that the Caste

Certificate issued to the appellant was valid and accepted that

she belongs to `Shimpi’ of Other Backward Class (OBC).

(c) Challenging the said order, Respondent No. 6 filed Writ

Petition No. 5112 of 2007 before the High Court of Bombay.

By order dated 15.09.2008, the High Court set aside the order

dated 20.04.2007 passed by the Committee and remanded the

matter back to it for de novo consideration and decision in

accordance with law. By order dated 19.06.2009, the

Committee declared the claim of the appellant herein as

invalid and cancelled the Caste Certificate issued to her.

(d) Aggrieved by the order dated 19.06.2009, the appellant

herein filed Writ Petition No. 5772 of 2009 before the High

3
Court of Bombay. By order dated 21.10.2010, the Division

Bench of the High Court dismissed the writ petition.

(e) Aggrieved by the said decision, the appellant herein has

preferred this appeal by way of special leave petition before

this Court.

5) Heard Mr. L. Nageswara Rao, learned senior counsel for

the appellant and Ms. Asha Gopalan Nair, learned counsel for

respondent Nos. 1 to 3, Mr. S. Sukumaran, learned counsel

for respondent No.5 and Mr. A.V. Sawant, learned senior

counsel for the contesting respondent No.6.

6) Mr. Rao, learned senior counsel for the appellant by

drawing our attention to the Government Resolution dated

03.06.1996 issued by Social Welfare, Cultural Affairs and

Sports Department, Government of Maharashtra, submitted

that in view of illustration given in Clause 25, the Committee

and the High Court ought to have accepted the claim of the

appellant and declared that she belongs to `Namdeo Shimpi’,

which is one of the castes included in Other Backward Classes

(OBCs). In the above-mentioned Government Resolution,

4
Clauses 25 and 31 have been pressed into service. They are

as follows:

“Clause 25

If in the list of O.B.C.’s if there is a clear reference of the

main caste, the competent authorities should issue caste

certificate to the sub-caste or the similar caste of the main

caste i.e., in the list of list of O.B.Cs’ caste Kunbi is included.

If in the documents of any person the word used are Tillori

Kunbi or Khaire Kunbi then since the caste Kunbi is in the

list of the O.B.C’s and since the said caste is a main caste,

such person be granted certificate of the caste Kunbi. If only

the word/names Tillori, Khaire are mentioned, the caste

certificate cannot be issued to such person as on the bases

of the name Tillori, Khaie the main caste does not get

clarified.
Clause 31
In the list of O.B.C’s, eligible for the benefits in the state of

Maharashtra, main castes are included and the sub-castes

of such caste are also held eligible for issuance of the caste

certificate. Persons belonging to such sub-castes be issued

caste certificate in the name of the main caste.”

It is not in dispute that the reference mentioned in Clause 25,

namely, caste `Kunbi’ is only an illustration. It is, no doubt,

true that in terms of Clause 31 in the list of OBCs eligible for

the benefits in the State of Maharashtra, if main castes are

included, in that event, the sub-castes are also eligible for

issuance of the caste certificate. According to the learned

senior counsel for the appellant, based on Clause 31, persons

belonging to such sub-castes can be issued caste certificate in

5
the name of the main caste. Per contra, Mr. A.V. Sawant,

learned senior counsel for the contesting respondent No.6

submitted that first of all, the reference made by the appellant

is not a full extract and admittedly it is only a portion thereof

and in the absence of full details about the Government

Resolution, it is not safe to rely upon and, more particularly,

in the light of Constitutional judgments of this Court clarifying

the position regarding issuance of caste certificate.

7) On a complaint being made by Respondent No. 6,

regarding the validity of the caste certificate produced by the

appellant, the matter was referred to the Regional Caste

Certificate Verification Committee (RCCVC). The Verification

Committee, consisting of the President, Member and Research

Officer, on receipt of the complaint issued notice to both the

parties, afforded opportunity to them and after relying on

various materials including the Government Notifications,

Regulations etc., by order dated 19.06.2009, declared the

claim of the appellant invalid and cancelled the Caste

Certificate issued by the Additional District Deputy Collector,

Mumbai Suburban District dated 18.01.1997.

6
8) The said order of the Verification Committee was

challenged before the Division Bench of the High Court and by

order dated 21.10.2010, it concluded that the appellant

belongs to `Namdeo Shimpi’ caste which does not fall under

Entry 153 of the relevant Government Resolution dated

01.03.2006 issued by the Government of Maharashtra. It is

relevant to point out that though some other sub-castes of

caste `Shimpi’ in (OBC) have been mentioned in Entry 153,

admittedly, `Namdeo Shimpi’ has not been included under the

original caste `Shimpi’. The relevant protion of the Entry 153

is as under:
________________________________________________________________________

S.No. Original caste and Serial no. Synonym caste/sub-caste

In the category of Other and Serial Number of its

Backward Class original caste included

afresh

6. Shimpi — 153 Jain Shimpi, Shravak Shimpi,

Shetaval, Shetawal, Saitaval,

Saitawal — 153

In view of the fact that there is no reference to `Namdeo

Shimpi’ in Entry 153, the appellant who belongs to the same

caste cannot claim the benefit meant for `Other Back-ward

Classes’ of `Shimpi’ caste.
7
9) The issue relating to caste certificate, scrutiny by the

Committee, inclusion or deletion etc. have been considered by

the Constitution Bench of this Court in State of
Maharashtra vs. Milind and Others, (2001) 1 SCC 4.
Relying upon two earlier Constitution Bench decisions in (i) B.
Basavalingappa vs. D. Munichinappa, AIR 1965 SC 1269 =
(1965) 1 SCR 316 and (ii) Bhaiya Lal vs. Harikishan Singh,

AIR 1965 SC 1557 = (1965) 2 SCR 877, the Constitution

Bench in Milind’s case (supra) has clearly held that an

enquiry as to whether any other caste or sub-caste can be

included in the caste or tribe specifically mentioned in the

Presidential Order was wholly impermissible.

10) The factual position in the Milind’s case (supra) is as

follows:-

The respondent, on the basis of the School Leaving

Certificate and other records of himself and his close relative

obtained a caste certificate from the Executive Magistrate,

Nagpur on 20.08.1981 as belonging to “Halba”, Scheduled

Tribe. On the basis of that certificate, he was selected in the

Government Medical College for MBBS degree course for the

8
year 1985-86 in the reserved category meant for Scheduled

Tribes. The certificate was sent for verification to the Scrutiny

Committee constituted under the Directorate of Social Welfare.

After necessary inquiry, the Scrutiny Committee recorded a

finding to the contrary and rejected the certificate. The

Appellate Authority, after detailed examination of evidence

dismissed the respondent’s appeal and held that the

respondent belonged to “Koshti” caste and not to

“Halba/Halbi”, Scheduled Tribe. However, the High Court

allowed the respondent’s writ petition and quashed the

impugned orders inter alia holding that it was permissible to

inquire whether any subdivision of a tribe was a part and

parcel of the tribe mentioned therein and that “Halba-Koshti”

was a subdivision of main tribe “Halba/Halbi” as per Entry 19

in the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950 (for short

“Scheduled Tribes Order”) applicable to Maharashtra. Before

the Constitution Bench, learned senior counsel for the

appellant-State of Maharashtra contended that:

9
(a) it was not permissible to hold an inquiry whether a

particular group was a part of the Scheduled Tribe as specified

in the Scheduled Tribes Order;

(b) the decision in Bhaiya Ram Munda vs. Anirudh Patar
& Ors. (1970) 2 SCC 825, did not lay down the correct
principle of law as to the scope of inquiry and the power to

amend the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Order; [this

contention involved the specific question as to whether "Halba-

Koshti" caste was a sub-tribe within the meaning of Entry 19

(Halba/Halbi) of the Scheduled Tribes Order relating to the

State of Maharashtra, even though not specifically mentioned

as such].

(c) the High Court misinterpreted the report of the Joint

Committee of Parliament placed before it when representations

for inclusion of “Halba-Koshti” in the Scheduled Tribes Order

were rejected;

(d) the High Court also committed an error in invoking and

applying the principle of stare decisis to the facts of the

present case;

10
(e) & (f) the High Court erred in setting aside the orders of the

Scrutiny Committee and the Appellate Authority which were

made on proper and full consideration of evidence and

authorities;

(g) the High Court gave undue importance to the

resolutions/circulars issued by the State Government which

were contrary to law;

(h) the High Court erred in treating the issue involved in the

present case to have been closed in Abhay caste.

On the other hand learned senior counsel for the respondent

contended that the old records relating to the period when

there was no controversy, clearly supported the case of the

respondent and the School Leaving Certificate issued to the

respondent was valid. He also submitted that it was open to

show that a particular caste was part of the Scheduled Tribes

coming within the meaning and scope of tribal community

even though it was not described as such in the Presidential

Order.

11) Allowing the appeal but moulding the relief, the

Constitution Bench held thus:

11
“11. By virtue of powers vested under Articles 341 and 342

of the Constitution of India, the President is empowered to

issue public notification for the first time specifying the

castes, races or tribes or part of or groups within castes,

races, or tribes which shall, for the purposes of the

Constitution be deemed to be Scheduled Castes or

Scheduled Tribes in relation to a State or Union Territory, as

the case may be. The language and terms of Articles 341 and

342 are identical. What is said in relation to Article 341

mutatis mutandis applies to Article 342. The laudable object

of the said articles is to provide additional protection to the

members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes

having regard to social and educational backwardness from

which they have been suffering since a considerable length

of time. The words “castes” or “tribes” in the expression

“Scheduled Castes” and “Scheduled Tribes” are not used in

the ordinary sense of the terms but are used in the sense of

the definitions contained in Articles 366(24) and 366(25). In

this view, a caste is a Scheduled Caste or a tribe is a

Scheduled Tribe only if they are included in the President’s

Orders issued under Articles 341 and 342 for the purpose of

the Constitution. Exercising the powers vested in him, the

President has issued the Constitution (Scheduled Castes)

Order, 1950 and the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order,

1950. Subsequently, some orders were issued under the said

articles in relation to Union Territories and other States and

there have been certain amendments in relation to Orders

issued, by amendment Acts passed by Parliament.

15. Thus it is clear that States have no power to amend

Presidential Orders. Consequently, a party in power or the

Government of the day in a State is relieved from the

pressure or burden of tinkering with the Presidential Orders

either to gain popularity or secure votes. Number of persons

in order to gain advantage in securing admissions in

educational institutions and employment in State services

have been claiming as belonging to either Scheduled Castes

or Scheduled Tribes depriving genuine and needy persons

belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes covered

by the Presidential Orders, defeating and frustrating to a

large extent the very object of protective discrimination given

to such people based on their educational and social

12
backwardness. Courts cannot and should not expand

jurisdiction to deal with the question as to whether a

particular caste, sub-caste; a group or part of tribe or sub-

tribe is included in any one of the entries mentioned in the

Presidential Orders issued under Articles 341 and 342

particularly so when in clause (2) of the said article, it is

expressly stated that the said Orders cannot be amended or

varied except by law made by Parliament. The power to

include or exclude, amend or alter Presidential Order is

expressly and exclusively conferred on and vested with

Parliament and that too by making a law in that regard. The

President had the benefit of consulting the States through

Governors of States which had the means and machinery to

find out and recommend as to whether a particular caste or

tribe was to be included in the Presidential Order. If the said

Orders are to be amended, it is Parliament that is in a better

position to know having the means and machinery unlike

courts as to why a particular caste or tribe is to be included

or excluded by law to be made by Parliament. Allowing the

State Governments or courts or other authorities or

Tribunals to hold inquiry as to whether a particular caste or

tribe should be considered as one included in the schedule

of the Presidential Order, when it is not so specifically

included, may lead to problems. In order to gain advantage

of reservations for the purpose of Article 15(4) or 16(4)

several persons have been coming forward claiming to be

covered by Presidential Orders issued under Articles 341 and

342. This apart, when no other authority other than

Parliament, that too by law alone can amend the Presidential

Orders, neither the State Governments nor the courts nor

Tribunals nor any authority can assume jurisdiction to hold

inquiry and take evidence to declare that a caste or a tribe or

part of or a group within a caste or tribe is included in

Presidential Orders in one entry or the other although they

are not expressly and specifically included. A court cannot

alter or amend the said Presidential Orders for the very good

reason that it has no power to do so within the meaning,

content and scope of Articles 341 and 342. It is not possible

to hold that either any inquiry is permissible or any evidence

can be let in, in relation to a particular caste or tribe to say

whether it is included within Presidential Orders when it is

not so expressly included.

13
36. Finally, the Constitution Bench has concluded that:

1. It is not at all permissible to hold any inquiry or let in any

evidence to decide or declare that any tribe or tribal

community or part of or group within any tribe or tribal

community is included in the general name even though it is

not specifically mentioned in the entry concerned in the

Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950.

2. The Scheduled Tribes Order must be read as it is. It is not

even permissible to say that a tribe, sub-tribe, part of or

group of any tribe or tribal community is synonymous to the

one mentioned in the Scheduled Tribes Order if they are not

so specifically mentioned in it.

3. A notification issued under clause (1) of Article 342,

specifying Scheduled Tribes, can be amended only by law to

be made by Parliament. In other words, any tribe or tribal

community or part of or group within any tribe can be

included or excluded from the list of Scheduled Tribes issued

under clause (1) of Article 342 only by Parliament by law and

by no other authority.

4. It is not open to State Governments or courts or tribunals

or any other authority to modify, amend or alter the list of

Scheduled Tribes specified in the notification issued under

clause (1) of Article 342.

5. Decisions of the Division Benches of this Court in Bhaiya

Ram Munda v. Anirudh Patar and Dina v. Narain Singh did

not lay down law correctly in stating that the inquiry was

permissible and the evidence was admissible within the

limitations indicated for the purpose of showing what an

entry in the Presidential Order was intended to be. As stated

in Position (1) above no inquiry at all is permissible and no

evidence can be let in, in the matter.”

12) In Kumari Madhuri Patil & Another vs. Additional
Commissioner, Tribal Development & Ors. (1994) 6 SCC
241, this Court has given elaborate directions for deciding the

14
claim of persons who belong to the Scheduled Castes,

Scheduled Tribes or Other Backward Classes. These

directions have been reiterated in a recent decision by a larger

Bench of three Judges of this Court in Dayaram vs. Sudhir
Batham & Ors. 2011 (11) Scale 448.
13) Mr. Rao, learned senior counsel, by relying on the

position prevailing in the State of Karnataka, namely, that

caste `Namdeo Shimpi’ has been included in OBC submitted

that the same analogy may be applied to the State of

Maharashtra. We have already noted the elaborate discussion

and the ultimate order of the Committee as well as the

Division Bench of the High Court. We are satisfied that before

arriving at such conclusion they considered the entire material

on record including the distinction between the list of OBCs in

the State of Karnataka as against the list of OBCs in State of

Maharashtra and recorded a finding that the appellant who

belongs to `Namdeo Shimpi’ caste does not belong to OBC of

`Shimpi’ caste in Maharashtra. In view of the same, we reject

the contention of the learned senior counsel for the appellant.

15
14) Ms. Asha Gopalan Nair, learned counsel appearing for

the State took us through various averments in the counter

affidavit filed by the State of Maharashta. The counter

affidavit filed by the Secretary to the Government of

Maharashtra in this Court shows that pursuant to the

recommendations made by the Maharashtra State Backward

Class Commission, the list of castes falling under OBC

`Shimpi’ has been amended from time to time. However, even

the Government Resolution dated 01.03.2006 does not include

`Namdeo Shimpi’ under the heading `Shimpi’ as OBC.

15) It is brought to our notice that the Maharashtra State

Backward Class Commission has been constituted in terms of

the judgment of this Court in Indra Sawhney vs. Union of
India, 1992 Supp (3) SCC 212, which is headed by a retired
Judge of the Bombay High Court and assisted by experts in

the field. Further, the said Commission undertakes extensive

studies and make recommendations from time to time or

suggest additions and alterations in the list of OBCs and it is

after such elaborate exercise the final list has emerged as per

the Government Resolution dated 01.03.2006. The details

16
furnished in the counter affidavit filed by the Secretary to the

Government of Maharashtra show that the above referred

Government Resolution is being updated from 1961 on several

occasions. We have already explained that the extract of the

Government Resolution dated 03.06.1996 relied on by Mr.

Rao, learned senior counsel for the appellant dealing with

caste `Kunbi’ (OBC), has no relevance to the facts of the

present case. We are also satisfied that the said Committee

has considered the distinction between the list of OBCs in the

State of Karnataka and in State of Maharashtra and has taken

note of the fact that though the Karnataka State has thought

it fit to include `Namdeo Shimpi’ under the category of `Shimpi’

(OBC), the Government of Maharashtra has not done so. This

has also been rightly highlighted in the impugned order by the

Division Bench of the High Court.

16) When it is not so expressly or specifically included in the

Government Resolution/order along with the main caste, in

such case, even if it is synonymous to the one mentioned in

the order, it is not permissible to avail such benefit of

reservation. It is well known that a caste may fall under the

17
category of OBCs in one State, but the said caste may not be

classified as OBC in other State. At any rate, we are of the

view that no specific evidence was led by the appellant to

discharge the burden of proof on her under Section 8 of the

Maharashtra Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, De-notified

Tribes (Vimukta Jatis), Nomadic Tribes, Other Backward

Classes and Special Backward Category (Regulation of

Issuance and Verification of) Caste Certificate Act, 2001.

Inasmuch as the burden of proof under Section 8 of the said

Act being on the person who claims to belong to that caste,

tribe, or class, in view of the factual conclusion by the

Committee based on relevant acceptable material and the

decision of the Division Bench, we are unable to accept the

claim of the appellant. On the other hand, we are satisfied

that the Committee and the Division Bench of the High Court

have considered the entire material in the light of the decisions

of this Court and came to a finding of fact that the appellant

does not belong to caste `Shimpi’ (OBC) and belongs to

`Namdeo Shimpi’ caste which is not OBC in the State of

Maharashtra.

18
17) Under these circumstances, we do not find any valid

ground for interference with the impugned order of the High

Court. Consequently, the appeal fails and the same is

dismissed with no order as to costs.

……………….

…………………………J.

(P. SATHASIVAM)

………………………………………..J.

(J. CHELAMESWAR)

NEW DELHI;

DECEMBER 05, 2011.

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